Police across Europe raided 150 different addresses on Tuesday in a co-ordinated operation targeting individuals suspected of distributing child abuse images online. Large quantities of equipment including computers, laptops, videos and other material containing images of child abuse were seized in raids spanning 13 European countries.
Europol describes Operation Icebreaker as the largest international police operation ever co-ordinated and supported by the organisation within this area of crime. Police in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK took part in the operation. The raids follow an investigation by Italian police (Carabinieri) based in Rome who unearthed a network of suspected paedophiles trading child abuse images through various internet boards.
"The networks' modus operandi consisted of sophisticated techniques to hide members' electronic identities and to encrypt their communication," Europol which helped supported the raids reports. Europol Director Max-Peter Ratzel said: "Operation Icebreaker is part of a criminal investigation following similar operations also supported by Europol with impressive results against internet child abuse networks. I find it of utmost importance to focus on this extremely terrible kind of crime, which involves the abuse of children, so it is my hope that today's operation will lead the investigators to some of the producers behind these evil deeds." ®
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