WhatsApp Pedophile Network: European Police Bust Groups Sharing Child Porn Images On Online Messaging Service

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald April 19, 04:00 am
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European police busted networks of pedophile communities on the online messaging site WhatsApp.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

European police busted a pedophile network sharing child porn on the online messaging service WhatsApp. Authorities seized hundreds of disturbing images from several groups spread out across 18 countries in Central America, Europe and South America.

In Lugo, Spain, which was believed as the center of the pedophile network, police arrested 17 people. Other arrests were also made in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Portugal, Sky News reported.

Europol said the network kept 360,000 files of babies, toddlers and children as old as eight being sexually abused. Authorities said the pedophile ring collected these, as well as the children's addresses, for over two decades, Mirror reported.

Europol eyed and investigated 96 WhatsApp groups where the distribution of the child porn images took place before they launched the raids. "The photographic and video files distributed in these channels are characterized by humiliating treatment and an excessive brutality on the victims, of ages between zero and eight years," the Spanish police said.

The investigation, called "Operation Tantalio," started in June 2016 in a joint effort among the Europol, the Interpol, the Technological Research Unit (ITU) of the National Police, the Action Group on Cybercrime in The Hague and the European Union. The agencies based their operation on a tip about people sharing photos and videos of child porn anonymously on the online instant messaging service.

Also seized in the raids were dozens of hardware equipment and handwritten logs of the children's profiles. This won't be the last move against pedophile networks. "We need to continue to combine our joint resources and skills to tackle this threat to our children and bring these offenders to justice," Europol director Rob Wainwright said, as per BBC.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp released a statement in connection with the bust. "Child exploitation has no place on WhatsApp," the spokesperson said. "When we're made aware of these accounts, we investigate, disable users that violate our terms, and assist with law enforcement as they track down and prosecute criminals."

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