Child Porn Ring Cracked

Gretchen Gallen
MAGDEBURG, Germany -- German authorities made a major coup today in breaking up one of the largest international child pornography networks in recent history.

The investigation was initiated by German authorities under the operation code name "Marcy" and involved the investigation of 26,500 Internet users in 133 countries.

More than 500 homes were searched throughout Germany and a reported 745 computers were seized, along with 35,000 CDs containing child pornography, 8,300 disks, and 5,800 videos.

"One of the biggest internationally active networks has been smashed," Justice Minister Curt Becker was quoted as saying.

German Authorities reported that 530 Germans have been "placed under suspicion of possessing or distributing child pornography."

It was also reported that one of the suspects in the child porn ring, a Bavarian man, was found to have 26,000 pornographic images of children in his possession.

Possession of child pornography in Germany can carry a jail term of up to one year, although the production and distribution of child porn can carry a 10-year sentence.

In the United Kingdom, the British National Crime Squad, a division of Scotland Yard, nabbed 22 of the suspects involved in the child pornography network. The British National Crime Squad claims to have initially investigated several hundred pedophile suspects.

Investigations that led to arrests in other countries were aided by the federal police office and Britain's Operation Ore, a joint task force initiated by the FBI and Scotland Yard after the United States Postal Inspection Service produced credit card information on several hundred thousand people suspected of paying to view child pornography.

Operation Ore has made thousands of pedophile arrests since its inception more than a year ago.

German authorities reported that the first crack in the case came a year ago when a German man was arrested for a stash of child pornography files on his computer. The arrest uncovered a massive file-swapping network that authorities said involved thousands of other users who could enter the network via a password system.

A statement from Scotland Yard Friday said that it would continue to work closely with German authorities in apprehending more suspects involved in the child pornography network, as well as pursue other pending cases.

"This is a great example of why it is so important for international hotlines and governments to work together in this battle against child pornography," Joan Irvine of ASACP told XBiz.com.

ASACP (Adult Sites Against Pornography) recently attended the INHOPE.org (Internet Hotline Providers of the Europe) Conference and a European Commission Safer Internet meeting to coordinate domestic and international efforts to stop the distribution of child pornography.

"I am sure that members of INHOPE provided information and worked directly with law enforcement to aid in this major coup. ASACP hopes that the ongoing information it provides to the FBI and the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children helped during their investigation."