10 people were arrested Thursday in Italy, Portugal, France, and the United States for allegedly capturing, viewing and disseminating images through a vast international online pedophile network, according to a CNN article.
In addition to the 10 taken into custody 112 more have been reported to law enforcement in their respective countries and other countries for "association with crime organizations (that were) producing and distributing pedophile material," according to the prosecutor's office in Florence, Italy.
Domenico Di Somma, an Italian police officer, said that the 112 people were part of an even larger social networking group that included upwards of 700 people.
The original investigation was ignited by a call to a child abuse help line over a year ago, Di Somma said.
Furthermore, the Italian prosecutor's office credited Telefono Arcobaleno, an anti-pedophile advocacy group, with providing a series of detailed reports in connection to the investigation.
The investigation, known as Operation Nanny in Italy, and Operation Hot Line 1 amongst the Portuguese, involved law enforcement officials in 28 countries, as well as international groups such as Europol and Interpol.
The Italian prosecutor mentioned that actions taken by authorities in San Diego helped to spark the "first raids in the United States" as well as data acquired by American authorities.
The network featured various videos and photos portraying children under the age of 11 being sexually abuse and exploited. In one egregious video, a man abused a baby who was only a few months old.
The prosecutor's office further stated that the arrests were all a part of "an extended pedophile community that used the Internet, especially social networks, in order to sexually exploit children and to spread and exchange pedophile material produced at an artisan level."
Di Somma declined to identify the social network by name because the investigation is ongoing, but he did indicate that there are 4 different interrelated online communities involved in the investigation overall.
The network is considered to have been ran by an unidentified 52-year-old man from Milan who was arrested Thursday, said Di Somma.
Portugual's Policia Judiciaria announced Thursday that it had searched 7 houses and taken computers that had images and videos of children performing graphic pornographic and sexual acts.
The searches sparked 4 arrests, all men between ages 21 and 78.
Finally, the Florence prosecutor stated that most of the pedophiles under investigation are repeat offenders.
The level on which this social network of pedophiles operated is scary because of the large number of young children that were abused and molested on an international level. What's worse is that most of the accused are believed to be repeat offenders.
It raises questions about the sentencing length of these sexual predators and whether additional prophylactic measures should have been imposed to dissuade these pedophiles from striking again once released from jail.
Another issue in this case is the judicial forum that will be used to prosecute those accused. For instance, will they be extradited and tried in their own countries, will they be tried in the countries in which they were arrested, or maybe they will be prosecuted in multiple judicial fora.
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