Using cunning and state-of-the-art surveillance techniques, international investigators have busted up an worldwide pedophile ring, reports the Associated Press.
British, U.S., Canadian and Australian investigators infiltrated an Internet chat room that streamed live videos of children being raped, rescuing 31 children and identifying more than 700 suspects worldwide.
"You could go and if you were in the club, arrange a time and a place when online you could view a child being raped and brutalized in real time," said Jim Gamble, chief executive of Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center.
The investigation involved agencies from 35 countries. Twenty-four Canadians and four Australians have been arrested, and more than 15 children were found in Britain. The probe has been ongoing since 2005 and in the summer, 200 Canadian officials tipped off authorities in London that they believed the chatroom's host was based in Britain.
"Every arrest we make we seize computers and information," said Detective Sgt. Kim Scanlan, of the Toronto police sex crimes unit.
Investigators traced the operation to a farmhouse in Buxhall, 90 miles northeast of London. They arrested ringleader Timothy David Martyn Cox and found 75,960 indecent and explicit images and evidence that he had supplied 11,491 images to other site users.
"(This was) not sharing a historic video ... but a child brought into a room - on Web cam - and brutalized for the pleasure of some deviant individual who might not even be in the same country as that child," Gamble said.
After Cox's arrest, investigators assumed Cox's identity and secretly ran the site for 10 days before shutting it down, gathering evidence on the chat room's hundreds of members. Police at no point distributed illegal images, Gamble said.
"Anyone who even thinks about going online to share an image, to view an image, to arrange access to a child or to share live access to a child is now taking a hell of a chance," Gamble said.