International Paedophile Ring Busted, 50 Children Saved
A two-year investigation headed by Interpol has led to the arrest of child sex offenders in Thailand, Australia and the U.S. -- as well as the rescue of 50 children.
Operation Blackwrist (named for a bracelet worn by one of the offenders seen in a video) was launched in 2017 following the discovery of material that showed the sexual abuse of 11 boys -- all of whom were under 13-years-old.
The operation monitored a 'dark web' website operated by a ring of offenders that published new images weekly.
Interpol reported that the abusers took "great care to avoid detection, often masking the children and leaving very few visual or audio clues".
Investigation of the website involved collaboration between Interpol, Thailand, Bulgaria, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.
The first arrests associated with the site began in early 2018, when the site's main administrator, Montri Salangam was detained in Thailand.
Interpol alleges that Salangam abused multiple children, including his own nephew, and baited his victims to his home with the promise of food, internet access, or games.
Salangam was sentenced in June, 2018 to 146 years in prison by Thai courts.
Australian Federal Police became involved after an IP address connected with the site pointed to a location in Adelaide.
The discovery led to the arrest of Ruecha Tokputza, who was arrested in Australia and sentenced to 40 years in prison last week -- the longest ever sentence for child sex offences in Australian history.
Tokputza pleaded guilty to 50 counts of child abuse between 2011 and 2018, including the abuse of a 15-month-old infant.
Judge Liesl Chapman told Tokputza in court, "You are a child's worst nightmare, you are every parent's horror, you are a menace to the community."
Interpol's investigation has led to further arrests in Thailand, Australia and the U.S. but the organisation has declined to release the names of any more offenders for the moment.
Interpol removed 50 children from harm who were found in the houses of these offenders but they believe that an additional 100 children have suffered abuse and are currently working to identify the victims.
Secretary general of Interpol, Jürgen Stock, said that Operation Blackwrist "sends a clear message to those abusing children, producing child sexual exploitation material and sharing the images online: We see you, and you will be brought to justice."