Police crack Philippine child web sex ring: A police operation spanning 14 countries has dismantled an internet paedophile ring that streamed live sexual abuse of Filipino children as young as six, with the victims’ parents involved in some cases.
The UK-led Operation Endeavour has led to the arrest of 29 suspects, and 15 victims have been rescued aged between six and 15, according to Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
Three other ongoing investigations into paedophiles who pay to see child sexual abuse via webcams in the Philippines have identified 733 suspects worldwide.
Operation Endeavour began in 2012 when police found obscene videos on a computer owned by Timothy Ford, a British man sentenced to prison for eight and a half years last March. An associate of Ford’s, Timothy Owens, was sentenced four months later, according to reports.
Both men were accused of paying for live sexual abuse of children on the Internet, and had planned to travel to the Philippines to engage in “contact abuse” of minors.
“Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain,” said the NCA in a statement.
Of the 29 suspects arrested, 17 are British, and 11 were arrested in the Philippines.
“This is part of our intensified efforts to end this scourge… of live streaming of child sexual abuse” for foreign paedophile customers, said Gilbert Sosa, Senior Superintendent and head of the Philippine police’s anti-cybercrime unit.
“This has become a major problem in the Philippines, where in some cases even the parents are involved,” he told AFP.
In the Philippines, many children have been forced into prostitution or into working in cybersex dens because of severe poverty. The village of Ibabao on Cebu island has been the focus of police investigations.
A Filipino couple was arrested last September for forcing children to engage in sex acts and charging customers up to $100 each to watch live-streaming over webcams.
There are other investigations ongoing elsewhere in the Philippines, said Mr. Sosa.