Police Act Over ‘Made-To-Order’ Child Videos
Forty-six people have been arrested in the UK as part of an operation to dismantle a global paedophile network after an investigation into a website that sold tailor-made videos of children being abused.
Some 22 British police forces acted, using customer details uncovered from the Italian-based site, which sold files and DVDs to 2,500 people around the world. The investigation, codenamed Operation Koala, also saw suspects’ computers seized and examined.
The arrests, which began in late September, were made across the UK and more are expected, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop). In the majority of cases charges had not yet been brought, it said.
A total of 92 people, including teachers, swimming instructors, lawyers and IT executives, have been arrested globally as a result of the investigation, which began in 2006 when a child abuse video made in Belgium was discovered in Australia.
A 42-year-old Italian man, Sergio Marzola, who is alleged to have masterminded the operation, is expected to go on trial early next year. Authorities said the website sold more than 150 videos of girls aged nine to 16, made mainly in his private studio in Ukraine.
Europol said 23 children involved had been identified. Customers could order tailor-made videos in which children held a sign with their name, Europol investigator Menno Hagemeijer told a press conference in The Hague. Some customers even attended the video shoots or to make their own private videos.
Mr Hagemeijer said Ukrainian girls were promised modelling careers and paid €20 to €40 for the sexually explicit photo shoots.