An international internet paedophile ring has been targeted
Two Britons have been arrested as part of an international crackdown on an
internet paedophile ring.
The men - a 36-year-old retail manager from Worcestershire and a 51-year-old ex-engineer in the Merchant Navy from Northamptonshire - are
being questioned at an un-named location.
The raids on premises were part of an international police effort in five countries, which led to 21 arrests.
Forming part of a taskforce codenamed Operation Twins, the police searches follow the arrest earlier this year in the US of a senior member of a paedophile ring called The Brotherhood.
The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) said some of those arrested on Wednesday were being interviewed in connection with making and distributing
indecent images of children.
NHTCU officers worked alongside the FBI, Europol, US Customs and other law
enforcement agencies to co-ordinate the arrests.
Det Supt Mick Deats, deputy head of NHTCU, said: "The results illustrate an excellent example of how international law
He said it showed that international partnerships could identify and bring to justice "those responsible for and engaged in serious
sexual abuse of children".
The fact that these people have come together in the real world as opposed
to the virtual world shows how their confidence has grown
The raids follow the arrest of a man in Colorado by the FBI
earlier in the year for grooming a child in an Internet chat room and meeting her
for a sexual purpose.
Forensic tests on the suspect's computer uncovered a photograph showing
seven men at a remote US farm for their annual meeting, code-named The Teddy
Those who attended or were invited came from countries including Canada, Germany, Norway, the UK and US.
They were believed to be people who
monitored bulletin boards and provided technical and security advice to members
to help them avoid police.
Police information from the Teddy Bear's Picnic and other evidence led to the arrests in Europe and North America on Wednesday.
As well as the two Britons, 10 people were held in the US,
seven in Germany, one in Canada and one in Norway.
'No hiding place'
Mr Deats, deputy head of NHTCU, said: "This operation has exposed
the complex, sophisticated and organised hierarchical structure that online
child abuse groups use to protect themselves, including their identities and the
activities they are involved in.
"The fact that these people have come together in the real world as opposed
to the virtual world shows how their confidence has grown."
But he added that their confidence was "misplaced" and there could be no hiding place on the internet.
He described the arrests as "a mopping up exercise", with more than
60 people identified and targeted so far.