☻ Investigation centred on 'boylover' online forum
- ☻ Website which had 70,000 members now shut down
- ☻ 670 paedophile suspects identified across the world
- ☻ Officers say the operation could see hundreds more arrested
- British detectives smash global paedophile ring Boylover.net:
Pervert: Scout leader John McMurdo, from Plymouth, was found in possession of nearly 2,000 indecent images of children
SCOUT leaders, football coaches and a police officer are among more than 100 suspected paedophiles arrested in the UK after the world’s biggest internet child sex ring was smashed by British police.
Others from every walk of life were arrested worldwide after undercover officers posing as paedophiles infiltrated a website with more than 70,000 members that served as a global meeting place for perverts.
They discovered it operated as a shop window for those who wanted to discuss and share their depraved interest in sex with young boys.
Paedophiles linked through the website held days out in London and Brighton during which they took pictures of children to post online, British investigators revealed yesterday.
Others travelled the country, meeting up with other paedophiles to share victims.
American child abusers flew to Europe to join attacks on young boys in Britain and Holland.
A woman who worked as a company secretary at a major electronics firm was arrested in the Borders area of Scotland.
Details of the four-year investigation, called Operation Rescue, were revealed yesterday in The Hague, Holland, where the server which stored the website was based.
Many of those arrested during the inquiry have already been jailed, but investigators say they have only begun their work. They believe around 1,200 people in Britain could eventually be arrested.
Police uncovered users in 30 countries including Britain, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil and Holland. So far, 670 suspected paedophiles have been targeted by police across the world, with 184 arrests and 230 children taken out of danger.
Sick: Robert Alexander Horsman, right, was jailed in Thailand last year for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy. He was arrested alongside Fritz Dieter Blattner, pictured left.
Uncovered: Horsman, left, and teacher Ian Riley, who was jailed for making more than 30,000 indecent images
Of the total, 240 suspects aged between 17 and 82 were in Britain where 121 arrests were made and 60 children rescued from abusers. Those involved included driving instructors and a former soldier.
The most recent arrest was on Tuesday in Northamptonshire and further raids may take place today.
Paedophile: Lee Palmer was among those caught by Operation Rescue
Investigators said hundreds more arrests could be made soon. Operation Rescue was led by investigators at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), which will be merged into a proposed National Crime Agency next year.
Investigators were shocked by the scale of the operation that revolved around boylover.net, which has since been shut down. The discussion site run by a 37-year-old Dutchman who was jailed this week was infiltrated in 2007 by undercover officers in Britain and Australia.
Users had divided it up into 11 sub-domains, run in different languages by ‘administrators’ across the globe including the UK.
Police found thousands of pages of appalling discussions, including references to the abuse of children, toddlers and even babies.
Incredibly, discussing the abuse of children is not illegal in most countries and in an attempt to stay ‘below the radar’ those behind the site blocked anyone who tried to post images and videos of abuse directly.
THE PERVERTS THEY CAUGHT FIRST
Instead the website effectively served as a meeting place for paedophiles who then pursued their vile interest elsewhere through file sharing sites or email.
'Everything they did online, everyone they talked to or anything they shared could be, and was, tracked by following the digital footprint'
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, said police ‘will not rest’ until every user is identified.
He said the results of the three-year crackdown were 'phenomenal' and praised analysts at Europol's headquarters for infiltrating the sophisticated computer codes designed to cover the traces of those using the online forum to meet up or exchange illegal images of children.
'Everything they did online, everyone they talked to or anything they shared could be, and was, tracked by following the digital footprint,' he added.
Mr Wainwright said Europol had so far issued more than 4,000 intelligence reports to police authorities in more than 30 countries which had led to the arrest of suspects and the identification of abused children.
The paedophile ring revolved around 'discussion site' boylover.net, which has since been shut down
Evidence: Officers seized computers and hard-drives in the operation which is still ongoing. Police believe around 1,200 people in the UK could eventually be arrested
Peter Davies, who leads Ceop, said there was ‘no hiding place’ for paedophiles on the web who might find the ‘children’ they think they are contacting turn out to be investigators.
He added: ‘They will get a knock on the door when they least expect it and their life will be changed forever.’
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Man accused of drugging young girls with ice cream laced with sleeping pills so he could make pornographic films of them
Thug rapes 30-year-old virgin on town centre pavement in full view of passing motorists
Dutchman Amir Ish-Hurwitz, 37, who set up and owned the website, was jailed by a Dutch court on Tuesday - triggering the decision to publicise the scale of the police operation.
'We could have publicised this earlier, or later, but once the website owner was in court it was obvious that information would emerge,' said a Dutch police spokesman.
Meanwhile, Mr Davies confirmed that one of the suspects arrested in Britain so far is a woman.
Announcement: Grant Edwards, Australian Federal Police, left, and Peter Davies, of the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, reveal details of the huge global police operation that tracked 670 suspects and led to 120 arrests in Britain