Some of the suspected criminals behind the network benefited from children's sexual abuse websites for years.
INTERPOL says that it has concluded a two-year global investigation to take down a network of websites profiting from explicit material of children.
"Identifying and removing these websites reduces the availability and potential normalization of online child abuse material and, most importantly, reduces the re-victimization of the children abused," Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary-General, said.
Over two years, the international operation Narsil – which references a longsword that tackles all evil – also targeted finance mechanisms used by the websites' administrators.
In one case, criminals roamed free for over a decade. In Argentina, a brother and sister in their early thirties were arrested, and law enforcement seized fourteen electronic devices from their home, as well as cash and credit cards. The siblings are suspected to "have created, maintained, and financially benefited for more than a decade from websites featuring child sexual abuse material and associated advertising campaigns."
According to INTERPOL, the criminal activity went undetected for such a long period of time because of the "technological complexities."
In Bulgaria, law enforcement identified and arrested a 34-year-old man who's thought to have made a living from operating an online forum that facilitated the sharing of child sexual abuse content. The suspect was arrested, and the investigations to identify forum users are still ongoing.
There have also been arrests in Russia and Thailand. In Russia, two 24-year-old citizens were accused of the production and distribution of illegal material. Police seized computer equipment and software for creating and administering websites, as well as removable hard drives with explicit material.
In Thailand, a 45-year-old national was accused of possessing large amounts of child sexual abuse material and, apparently, profiting from it.
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