Europol and FBI Take Down Child Sex Network
Europol and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 17 people Wednesday in their first joint operation against child sexual exploitation. The arrests were the result of a yearlong operation dubbed “Atlantic” that identified a total of 37 offenders and 8 victims of child sexual molestation and the production of illegal content.
A Europol news release said that the search for more victims continues.
The operation began in November 2010 when representatives of the FBI and the Europol met in the Hague, the Netherlands, at an operational meeting. In December 2010, the FBI shared the results of their investigation into international pedophile networks with authorities in Italy, France, Spain, UK and the Netherlands.
After analyzing the information received from the FBI, Europol uncovered new links between the suspects in operation Atlantic and crimes investigated in previous operations against child sex offenders. The analysis yielded five reports on a total of nine targets.
In a previous operation dubbed “Operation Rescue,” Europol dismantled a network of child sex offenders dubbed “Boylover.” The operation resulted in the identification of 670 suspects worldwide, 184 arrests, and the rescue of 230 children. Two of the targets in the operation Atlantic were identified as members of the “Boylover” network, while the remaining seven targets were linked to other pedophile networks still under investigation.
“Collaboration and cooperation between Europol and our international law enforcement partners such as the FBI is essential if we are to bring these child sex abuse networks to justice and prevent the distribution of child exploitation material across the internet,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol. He praised operation Atlantic as a success in the fight against child sexual exploitation networks, and added that “Europol is ready and willing to support ongoing and future operations to infiltrate these networks.”
FBI’s director Robert S. Mueller commented on the operation, saying that: “Online child predators and child exploitation are not just an American problem. They are global problems.”
“The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners around the world, such as Europol, to combat these horrendous crimes,” he added.