Another pedophile was brought down by law enforcement agencies and the operation was carried out by the Australians and the Spanish authorities. According to the information from Queensland Police- Australian Task force Argos sent secure messages via the Europol’s secure communication channel. This allowed the Europol cyber team to carry out a detailed operational analysis. The detailed analysis shed some light on the crime the Spanish citizen had committed. The analysis revealed that a video which dates back to 2015 that was found in Belgium and France may have been filmed in Spain. The key to cracking the case is due to the strong international commitment that has been in display as Europol supported the Spanish authorities by analyzing the secret cable it had received from behalf of the Queensland Police in Australia. According to the Europol experts the child molester was an active participant in dark web forums that hosts videos and abusive content related to child abuse and in fact he was registered users in few of those .onion web pages.
Image Source: www.europol.europa.eu
The joint international investigation also revealed that the suspect also used social media networks for communication. He was also friends with a lady whose surname exactly matched the title of the sexual abuse videos. The culprit was arrested in Barcelona where he was allegedly operating. As soon as the Spanish cyber-crime experts located the pedophile in the Catalan city they moved in and made the arrest. The abuser apartment was searched thoroughly and a lot of crucial evidence linking the alleged abuser to the actual crime came to light. Vital material, now in the possession of the Spanish authorities depict how the perpetrator used multiple email addresses along with various dark web access points to commit the horrific acts and also tried to leave no footprints behind. The dark web is a part of the internet (World Wide Web) that is hidden and is also known as “Shadow Web” or the “Hidden Internet”. To access these websites the culprit used a special software which grants you permission to dive into the dark world anonymously without the tension that someone is watching over you. The platform is very popular and mostly used by criminals and terrorists.
Fernando Ruiz, Acting head of the European Cyber-crime Centre (EC3) at Europol Headquarters stated that children are at safe hands and remains a top priority for law enforcement agencies around the world and this international corporation reveals the strong cooperation that exists during this difficult times when the world is facing a COVID-19 pandemic. He also was proud that Europol and non-EU partners have come together to help identify these criminals who abuse and exploit children. Ruiz told that everyone should be aware of the potential dangers especially during the lock down time as discussion about COVID-19 pandemic are appearing in various child abuse platform on the Dark Web which makes child even more vulnerable.
Image Source: theconversation.com
Some child advocates have suggested that the pandemic has created a perfect storm. As children are spending more and more time on the internet, Omegla (an online chat application) it becomes easier for these child abusers to target, manipulate vulnerable children and brain wash them. This was stated by Europol executive director Catherine De-Bolle earlier this month in a media briefing. The most vulnerable are the children from Philippines where the child sex tourism is highest in the world, detailed study conducted by International Justice Mission in Phillippines show that close associate like friends, families and closed relatives are involved in child trafficking. The most common form of child abuse is “pay-per-view” where criminals can pay as little as $15 to fulfill their desire and this pandemic has given the right time to achieve their twisted goals. There has been a certain rise in child abuse cases through the dark web and experts suggest that the trend is likely to continue once the pandemic (COVID-19) is over.
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