Agents of the National Police Three individuals have been arrested in Madrid and Tenerife by possession and distribution of pedophile material on-line in an operation that has made it possible to detect more than 90,000 online accounts and identify more than 100 suspects in different countries of the European Union.
The investigation, within the framework of an international macro-operation coordinated by EUROPOL, has had the participation of police authorities in 13 countries.
One of those arrested in Madrid –in addition to possessing abundant child pornography material– also recorded videos of women in sexual attitudes, without their consent, and sent them to third parties.
Another of the detainees tried to deceive the agents by giving him a broken cell phone; and a third tried to destroy the phone he was using when investigators entered his home.
The investigation began in 2019 when a well-known cloud storage platform, located in New Zealand, detected the existence of numerous people exchanging images of child sexual abuse, some of them extremely harsh.
It is one of the most widely used platforms, since its encryption methods provide high security that prevent -even the company itself- from accessing what a specific user hosts if the passwords are not available.
In addition, it allows public or restricted sharing of the content of virtual folders, and even transferring them from one account to another. When the company detects any transfer of sexual images of minors –either through complaints or automatic systems– it blocks and reports the person responsible.
Detected by New Zealand authorities
In this sense, the New Zealand authorities detected those involved in several European countries, which is why they informed EUROPOL and requested its help. When the agents became aware of the facts, they began the investigations and cross-checked information with their respective databases.
They immediately detected that one of those under investigation had downloaded a particularly harsh video in which a few-month-old baby was being tortured. After several steps, the agents located this individual in the city of Madrid and searched his home.
As a result of this search, they located abundant child pornography material, both stored on the device and in various clouds, verifying that it was sent to third parties through instant messaging applications.
Arrested in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
On the other hand, the agents discovered that he also recorded images of unknown women on the street, as well as neighbors of the building opposite, carelessly and without their consent. They also located nude images of a woman who turned out to be his ex-partner, who later stated that she never knew she had been recorded.
This material was sent to a third party, also resident in Madrid, who testified before the agents as being investigated for these events. He was finally arrested and the judicial authority ordered his admission to provisional prison.
The second arrest also occurred in Madrid. In this case, the person under investigation – who had a history of similar events in 2015 and 2016 – had also been denounced for using an instant messaging application to distribute child pornography.
Later, in addition, the agents verified the use of a well-known social network to commit acts of the same nature. This individual, located and detained outside his home, tried to deceive the agents by giving them a mobile phone that did not work.
In the search of his home, huge amounts of pedophile material were found and it was verified that he exchanged it through numerous means and different instant messaging programs.
Finally, the agents arrested a third individual in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. During the search of his home, in which a large amount of computer material was intervened for his subsequent analysis, the investigated tried to destroy the mobile phone he used to commit the crimes.
police macro operation
This investigation is part of an international macro operation, coordinated by EUROPOL, in which the police authorities of Austria, Greece, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and USA.
After analyzing the information collected, 725 cases have been opened internationally and more than 90,000 online accounts related to the events investigated have been detected. In addition, more than 100 suspects have been identified throughout the European Union and the protection of 136 children around the world has been ensured.