International Force Busts Bulgarian Child Porn Ring

International Force Busts Bulgarian Child Porn Ring
Matt O'Conner
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Six Bulgarians have been arrested in a child porn sting that stretched across Europe, Asia and North America in a joint effort between Bulgarian police and the FBI.

The suspects’ names have not been disclosed, but police say they seized a large cache of sexually explicit material involving children as young as three from the homes of six Bulgarians as well as the offices of an Internet provider where four of the individuals worked.

Officials raided apartments and the Internet provider on Dec. 2, seizing a database containing scenes of violence and sexual abuse against children, Katya Ilieva, a spokesperson for the organized crime unit of Bulgarian police, told the Associated Press.

Police uncovered more than 30,000 pictures and at least two gigabytes of videos that, according to Ilieva, contained “grisly rape scenes involving girls and boys aged between three and 12.” Ilieva added that in some of the movies, the children appeared drugged.

The Bulgarian Information Ministry released a statement saying that "men between the ages of 25 and 30 had set up a large database with photographs, clips and movies with pedophile content.”

The materials are believed to have originated in Russia's Far East, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. It was stored on Bulgarian Internet servers and downloaded primarily by people located in Europe and the United States.

The six individuals also were involved in the distribution of pirated software, music and movies, Ilieva said.

Michael Clark, an FBI representative based in Bulgaria, said the operation was "an excellent example of international cooperation.” He added that the operation will continue in other countries under the supervision of the FBI and that more arrests are expected.

Bulgaria, one of the poorest Eastern European countries with a population of only eight million people, has stepped up its efforts against child pornography recently as part of its bid to be admitted into the European Union.