Spain Takes Down 500 Terabytes of Child Pornography, Arrests 121

Published: 14 November 2023

Cybercrime Illustration copySpain’s Cybercrime Unit arrested 121 people in one of the country’s largest child pornography cases on record. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur, Flickr, License)

By Henry Pope

Spanish police, in one of its largest-ever child pornography investigations, arrested 121 people linked to the online distribution of 500 terabytes of violent and explicit pornographic material depicting minors.

National Police officers from the Central Cybercrime Unit rooted out the 500 terabytes of child pornography material across almost 1,000 storage devices, which took roughly 125 searches to be collected. The investigation spanned the entire country; three of those arrested were women.

A terabyte holds 1,000 gigabytes, meaning that authorities seized 500,000 gigabytes of illegal content depicting minors in sexually explicit positions. The operation is one of the most important carried out in Spain’s history, authorities said.

One search, carried out in Alicante, led to the arrest of a man in possession of a multitude of sexually graphic images depicting two minor males, police said. Further analysis of the evidence revealed that the illegal pornographic content was recorded inside the suspect’s home.

Investigators allege the 121 arrested coordinated through the same digital platform in order to obtain and distribute their sexually illicit material. One suspect in particular, arrested in Madrid, is linked to two million child pornography files depicting young girls.

Also collected into evidence were several videos depicting high degrees of violence directed towards the child victims; the files were so numerous it took 10 large-capacity hard drives to house them all, police said.

Altogether, the 500 terabytes of child pornography were spread across 368 hard drives, 114 USB flash drives, 427 CDs and DVDs, 37 memory cards, 47 mobile phones, six tablets, and 60 computers, all seized by authorities. Audiovisual equipment and video cameras, allegedly used to film the child victims in sexually explicit scenarios, were also collected by the arresting officers.

Police hope that this goldmine of new evidence will aid investigators in identifying new victims of sexual abuse, as well as those associated with the 121 suspects who make up a larger network of pedophiles.