Italian Police Arrested Four Members of a Darknet Child Porn Ring, Identified 120 More

In October, Europol and law enforcement in Italy arrested seven members of a child porn ring with ties to The Love Zone. Italian law enforcement, yet again, made another darknet-related child pornography bust, this time netting four suspects.

The Polizia Postale (Postal Police), with the aid of several local agencies, searched 44 houses for 31 suspects. The searches were conducted throughout nine regions: Tuscany, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Lazio, Puglia and Sicily. Despite the identification of many suspects, authorities considered the sweep to be widely unsuccessful.

Italian law enforcement identified another 120 suspects located abroad—all of whom will be investigated by the corresponding agencies. The majority of the suspects were located within Europe, USA and Latin America, according to the press release.

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Authorities dubbed the six-month investigation “Web Sweep” (We Sweep The Web) upon discovering the child porn ring. The investigation started after a 50-year-old man from Livorno filed a complaint when he accidentally found the site in question.

Police said that the man was attempting to download jazz music from the web on a “normal file sharing service” when he found himself on a child porn site. He immediately reported his discovery to the police, subsequently prompting the lengthy investigation. The Postal Police were able to, by methods undisclosed, trace down a large circle of viewers from the site. Authorities announced that they were given special permission to create fake profiles on the child porn site to understand what they were dealing with.

Many scenes were of adults having sex with children under the age of five, an officer described. Users downloaded these videos 10,000 times or more. Credit was given to the officers who had to pose as imposters on the site, “bringing out” the network of perversion and abuse.

One of the arrested suspects, a 41-year-old, was caught while downloading the explicit imagery. He was also in possession of “dozens and dozens” of videos and images. Police reported that his apartment was a center, of sorts, where he set up a dedicated room with several computers and screens.

The other three arrests were of a 44-year-old call center operator; a 56-year-old craftsman; and a 48-year-old metalworker. All four men were released under house arrest. Another was arrested but was later released due to a disability. Police report the aforementioned suspect to be on the run from the law.

Police commissioner Alberto Intini said that the majority of these suspects were from all walks of life. For the most part, he said, they are aged between 30 and 50-years-old. “Now, thanks also to the International Child Sexual Exploitation database, the hope is to be able to trace the young victims,” he said. The videos depicting the child abuse came from abroad, for the most part, he said.

Intini went on to say that these types of people, specifically the abusers of children, were committing a “hateful and disgraceful crime.”

Italian authorities stated that law enforcement now has an advantage that was not present before. They have a greater understanding of how these sites operate. “Online police communication will be enhanced now because most of the crime takes place on the web. Police scored a major hit,” one official said in a press release.

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