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Europe

Child-Porn Ring Busted

Police have lashed out against pedophiles. On Wednesday, they simultaneously conducted raids in European countries, America and Japan. They arrested twelve suspects and secured incriminating pornographic material.

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Paedophiles are increasingly using the internet

Operation ARTUS was one of the biggest international police operation against pedophiles ever. At the end of Wednesday's raids, police had arrested twelve suspects in ten different countries.

All of them are thought to be involved in the production and distribution of child pornography.

The suspects were allegedly members of a specialized internet chat group and referred to themselves as "The Round Table". Its main purpose was the distribution of pornographic material involving children. The internet channel was protected by passwords and other security tools. The suspects are said to have used highly sophisticated encryption techniques - but police still managed to gain access to the "Round Table" internet channel.

According to police in Germany, some of the material seized in Wednesday's raids is extremely brutal. It includes pictures and videos of children being violently raped. Some of the arrested suspects are also believed to have abused children themselves.

Operation ARTUS

Wednesday's international police action was triggered by Germany's National Criminal Police Agency 'Bundeskriminalamt' (BKA). German police had gotten wind of the internet chat room last year when they were searching the apartment of a 40-year old man from the western city of Münster. The man was hooked up to the internet channel just as the police arrived. Ten other suspects were also logged on to the chat room at the time.

The 40-year-old claimed he had founded the chat room and was taken into custody. He had already been convicted of spreading child pornography once before.

After the arrest, police began to unravel the international network of pedophiles hooked up to the "Round Table" internet chatroom. The operation, codenamed ARTUS, was coordinated by the international police organization Interpol in Lyon, France.

31 suspects, 12 arrests

At the break of dawn on Wednesday, police in ten countries set out simultaneously to target the pedophile ring.

Police searched the houses of 31 suspects in a number of European countries, in Japan, Canada and the U.S. They arrested twelve people and seized computers and large quantities of data. If charged the suspects will all be prosecuted in their own countries.

The materials seized will be analyzed in an effort to identify and find the child victims who were sexually abused in the production of the material and save them from further abuse.

According to Interpol's Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, 'Operation Artus' was the latest in a s series of successful operations to combat the production and distribution of child pornography over the Internet. "Interpol is pleased to work with national police agencies to ensure that the Internet is not available for the selling or distribution of such vile and degrading criminal activity," Noble added.

Child pornography – a growing market

According to Interpol, child pornography on the internet is increasing dramatically. Falling prices for computers and advances in communication technology are making it easier for pedophiles to use the web for their purposes.

According to June Kane, an expert on combating child pornography, pedophiles turn over some 55 million euro ($ 50 million) each year selling child pornography on the net.

Interpol's Hamish McCulloch says fighting child pornography on the internet is an uphill battle. "There are thousands of pictures that we remove from the web every day. But at the same time, many more new ones are being put on the net or they are being mirrored on other sites."

McCulloch recommends concentrating on trying to identify the child victims and identifying the people who put the pictures on the net in order not to waste resources.

Interpol has recently developed an analytical software tool to help identify the victims and support law enforcement in Interpol' s 179 member states involved in investigating these crimes.

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