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Europe: 13 countries raided in child pornography bust

Publish Date: 16 Jun 2005

Source: Associated Press Worldstream
By Anthony Deutsch
(Filed: 15/06/05)

Euro police raid 13 countries, bust child pornography ring

THE HAGUE: European police have raided 150 addresses in 13 countries in a coordinated operation against a major child pornography ring, Europol said Tuesday.

The European joint police force said the operation, code-named Icebreaker, netted computers, videos and evidence of the sexual abuse of children.

It was “the largest international police operation ever coordinated and supported by Europol within this area of crime,” the Netherlands-based agency said in a statement. It was unclear how many people were detained.

Europol said national authorities, under the leadership of Italian Carabinieri police, “successfully targeted suspected members of Internet child abuse networks who download and exchange pictures of molested children.”

Europol’s new German director, Max-Peter Ratzel, told a small group of journalists that more than 20 people were arrested in the continuing operation, which has involved police and customs agents.

“This was a great success for Europol and the national authorities. The criminals don’t sleep, so we won’t either,” he said at the organization’s headquarters in The Hague.

The raids were carried out in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

“The networks’ modus operandi consisted of sophisticated techniques to hide members’ electronic identities and to encrypt their communication,” the statement said.

In Belgium 17 suspects were under investigation, RTBF television reported. It said their computers were being examined, but no arrests had yet been made. If convicted, they could face up to two months in prison for possession of child pornography, and 5-10 years in prison for distributing it, RTBF said.

EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the operation should demonstrate the effectiveness of European cooperation in fighting crime.

“This is an important day for the protection of children in Europe. But it is equally an important day for Europe,” he said. “This is where Europe makes a difference, and this is where we can show to the EU citizens what the added value of Europe is.”

German federal police said they were investigating five people in connection with the raids, though they said they had made no arrests so far.

Three people were charged in Portugal when police on Tuesday searched five houses and shops in Lisbon and in the north of the country, seizing computers, which stored pictures and films of child pornography.

“We believe these people are part of a worldwide ring which disseminates child pornography over the Internet,” police chief inspector Carlos Cabreiros said at a press conference.

Copyright (c) 2005 The Manila Times