Dozens of pedophiles have been arrested as part of an international operation by law enforcement to take down a ring of sex criminals that would live-stream the sexual abuse of children from the Philippines.
NBC News reports that 29 pedophiles have been arrested thus far as part of Operation Endeavour, a cooperative effort between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Australian Federal Police.
“This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with,” said Andy Baker, Deputy Director of the NCA’s Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre command. “Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt.”
Details of Operation Endeavour, which was launched in 2012, reveal that it began in the UK when Northamptonshire Police found a number of indecent videos on computers on a routine visit at the home of registered sex offender Timothy Ford. The CEOP was notified and the global investigation began. According to the release from the NCA, 12 countries were involved in arresting these pedophiles paying to witness the live sexual abuse of children, as suspects were identified in Australia, the US, France, Germany, Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Taiwan, Denmark and Switzerland.
The Filipino facilitators of this pedophile ring were arrested under the Philippine Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which also includes child sexual exploitation offenses. As a result of the investigation, 15 children in the Philippines have been identified and safeguarded from sexual abuse.
“Thanks to this joint operation, children have been rescued from a living nightmare,” said James Dinkins the executive associate director of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Immigration and Customs Enforcement, via release from the AFP.
“The group responsible for these heinous crimes mistakenly believed that they could use technology to avoid detection, but they were wrong.”
Further information on the investigation into the pedophile ring is not available, as the operation is ongoing.
Ford, whose arrest helped launch the investigation, had planned to move to the Philippines to start an Internet cafe, reports said. He had suggested to another member of the pedophile ring, Thomas Owen, that he could act as his caretaker in order for both to travel to the Philippines undetected. Ford was sentenced to 8 & 1/2 years in prison last March; Owen received a 7-year sentence in July.