International police led by a UK
team say have broken up the largest internet paedophile ring yet discovered.
The global abuse network had 70,000
members at its height, leading to 4,000 intelligence reports being sent to
police across 30 countries.
The operation has identified 670
suspects and 230 abused children to date.
Detectives say 184 people have so
far been arrested – and 121 of them were in the UK.
Some 60 children have been protected in the
The three-year investigation,
Operation Rescue, was led by investigators from the UK’s Child Exploitation and
Online Protection Centre.
Speaking at a press conference at
The Hague in the Netherlands, investigators said the network hid behind a legal
online forum which operated out of the Netherlands – but its members came from
around the world.
Along with the Netherlands and UK,
suspects have been identified in Australia, Italy, Canada, New Zealand and Thailand.
The members of the network went
into a private channel, boylover.net, and then used its secret systems to share
films and images of abused children, said Mr Wainwright.
However, child abuse investigators,
including a team from the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre,
had already infiltrated the network and were posing as paedophiles to gather
In the UK, the 240 suspects
included police officers, teachers and youth leaders.
One of the suspects in the UK was a
To date, 33 have been convicted.
Operation Rescue began when the
Protection Centre and colleagues in the Australian Federal Police separately
identified the site as a key online meeting place for abusers.
The two forces
deployed officers to covertly infiltrate the site and to identify the members
who were posing the most risk to children.