An international paedophile ring that streamed live child abuse from the Philippines has been broken after a joint operation involving British, Australian and US police.
The UK’s National Crime Agency said 29 people had been arrested, including 17 Britons, as part of a two-year investigation spanning 12 countries.
It said the group arranged for children, some as young as five years old, to be sexually abused live on webcam in exchange for payment. Some of those arrested were members of the children’s own families.
Those in the UK who viewed the footage over the internet contributed more than £5,000 to the ring.
The abuse illustrates “a significant and emerging threat”, particularly in developing countries, according to the agency. It revealed that other investigations were taking place into live streaming of child sex abuse, with 139 Britons among the 733 suspects.
Andy Baker, from the NCA, said: “This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with.
“Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas.
“Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers.”
So far, 15 children aged six to 15 have been rescued after being identified as victims. In some cases their own relatives sold them for abuse.
In the UK, five of the 17 suspects arrested have been convicted, nine investigations are ongoing, one will face no further action and two are dead.
The inquiry began after Northamptonshire police visited registered sex offender Timothy Ford and began tracking the international abuse network from obscene videos they found on his computer. Ford was paying to view live sexual abuse and planned to move to the Philippines to open an internet cafe. He was instead jailed for eight and a half years in March last year.
Another member of the paedophile network, Thomas Owen, who had nearly 4m images of child abuse when he was arrested, was jailed for seven years in July last year.
The NCA said: “The use of webcams to stream live abuse, particularly from the developing world, is a significant and emerging threat according to the NCA’s Ceop (child exploitation and online protection) command.
“Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain.”
QotD: “a new reservoir of available females was created to expand the tight supply of goods available for traditional sexual exploitation”
But the rhetoric of the sexual revolution, if it brought no improvements for women, proved to have great value for men. By convincing women that the usual female games and demands were despicable, unfair, prudish, old-fashioned, puritanical, and self-destructive, a new reservoir of available females was created to expand the tight supply of goods available for traditional sexual exploitation, disarming women of even the little protection they had so painfully acquired. Women today dare not make the old demands for fear of having a whole new vocabulary, designed just for this purpose, hurled at them: ‘fucked up’, ‘ballbreaker’, ‘cockteaser’, ‘a real drag’, ‘a bad trip’ – to be a ‘groovy chick’ is the ideal.
Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, 1970