Police probe 1,800-strong Internet paedophile ring

London man arrested as Scotland Yard investigates what could be the UK's largest ever Web paedophile club

Scotland Yard has confirmed reports that it is investigating an Internet paedophile ring that could be the largest ever found in Britain.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said on Monday that the paedophile "club" it is investigating could dwarf the Wonderland Club, previously the largest Internet porn ring ever uncovered in Europe.

"The Scotland Yard Paedophile Unit is investigating a large-scale Internet paedophile ring, known as 'Teenboys'," the spokesman told ZDNet News. "A South London man has been arrested, and is currently on police bail. It is thought that this ring could include up to 1,800 people," he added.

According to newspaper reports on Sunday the man arrested is a caretaker, and the club shared sexually explicit images of boys as young as 12.

Seven men were sentenced to between 18 and 30 months in February this year for their part in the Wonderland Club. Wonderland was an international paedophile ring that involved 750,000 images, and is thought to have included around 200 members -- each of whom had to submit 20,000 indecent images of children in order to join the club.

Operation Cathedral, the investigation that broke Wonderland, involved police forces in 12 countries. Leading police officers warned at the time that more resources were needed to fund such investigations in future.

ZDNet News undertook its own investigation into Net paedophilia earlier in the year and discovered that Yahoo!'s instant messaging service is routinely used by paedophiles to persuade children into sexually explicit conversations.

See also: ZDNet UK's Net Crime News Section.

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