Philippine’s online child abuse ring smashed in international operation

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An online child abuse ring from Philippines was smashed in a joint operation by the United Kingdom Police, Australian Federal Police, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Philippine Police.
The ring arranged for children to be sexually abused live on webcam in exchange for payment. Some suspects included the victimised children’s family members, a statement by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
‘Operation Endeavour’ spanned 14 countries and arrested 29 suspects involved in the online paedophiliac ring that streamed child abuse.
733 suspects have also been arrested in three other on-going investigations to apprehend clients who paid to see live abuse via webcams.
NCA says it is an “emerging threat”, particularly in developing countries.
“Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain,” NCA said.
‘Operation Endeavour’ began in 2012 after Northamptonshire Police carried out a scheduled visit at the home of a registered sex offender Timothy Ford. The police discovered a number of child porn videos on computers and a collection of DVDs recorded from webcams.
The force approached the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) – now part of the NCA – leading to the launch of the global investigation.
The siezed digital media from Ford was analysed to identify the suspects and the child victims, the Philippine National Police was also involved in the investigations.
Investigations led to discovery of money transfer records to the parents of five children whose abuse Force had paid to watch.
He was in contact with other British paedophiles and offered them opportunity to watch the abuse.
Ford was also discussing with a partner to set up what they termed “pedopals vacations,” that included buying an internet cafe in the Philippines and renting out rooms by the hour.
Ford was sentenced in March last year to eight-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the case.
The operation has also made 29 arrests in other countries, including of 11 people suspected of facilitating the abuse in the Philippines.
Suspects have been identified in Australia, the US, France, Taiwan, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
In the Philippines, some 15 children aged six to 15 were rescued after being identified as victims.
Deputy Director Ceop Andy Baker said, “This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with.
“Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers.”