Law Enforcement Across the World ‘Virtual Global Taskforce’ Dismantle Child Exploitation Network
(News4us.com) December 2, 2010
Law enforcement across the world has come together to dismantle a network of commercial child sexual exploitation websites, the most sophisticated international investigation of its type.
Operation Basket employed the authorities of Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) partners in six countries to investigate the criminal organisation responsible for the advertisement and distribution of approximately 230 child exploitation websites.
These sites were selling commercial access to images and videos of children as young as three years old that had been subject to child sexual abuse. This operation led to the arrests of five key members belonging to the criminal organisation in the Ukraine in 2010 and the shutdown of their online commercial distribution activities.
The operation commenced out of leads from a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation that had been underway since 2006, and ultimately identified 30,000 customers in 132 countries and led to hundreds of convictions in the United States, and 11 arrests in Belarus in 2008.
Chairman of the VGT and Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Manager of High Tech Crime Operations Neil Gaughan says that the success of this operation would not have been possible without the cooperation between all countries involved.
‘International collaboration is imperative to battle online child sexual exploitation. This investigation is a prime example of Virtual Global Taskforce partners working together internationally to combat online child sexual exploitation anywhere, anytime,’ Mr Gaughan said.
‘The investigation highlights that if you choose to distribute, advertise, purchase or access child sexual abuse images, no matter where you are in the world, you will be investigated, charged and face serious consequences,’ Mr. Gaughan said.
‘As online criminals become more technically savvy, their means of exploiting children becomes more sophisticated. This network was one of the most sophisticated commercial child exploitation networks we have seen and advertised atrocious images and videos of sexually exploited boys and girls.’
The investigation involved extensive cooperation between law enforcement in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Europol and Interpol.
The AFP is for the first time hosting the VGT Conference in Sydney, which starts tomorrow. This conference will look at new ways to combat these sophisticated networks and emerging trends in online child abuse.
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