17 January 2014
Police in Britain say they've broken up an international crime group that organised the sexual abuse of children in the Philippines live over the internet. So far 29 people have been arrested around the world and 17 people in Britain. In one case, a British man was found to have directed the abuse via the internet of five children from one Philippine family.
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It has been described as "an emerging threat" by Britain's National Crime Agency. The children were abused in the Philippines and filmed online - often with the collaboration of their parents - and their traumas were viewed by paedophiles on computers around the world.
The investigation which uncovered the crimes began in 2012 and was prompted by a routine visit by the police to the home of a registered sex offender in the English Midlands. There they found indecent videos stored on computers and a collection of DVDs recorded from webcams.
The trail soon saw British officers working alongside the Australian Federal Police and US Immigration and customs officials to track down other perpetrators and begin to unravel the network.
The National Crime Agency said extreme poverty in the Philippines and the increasing availability of high-speed internet had made the abuse possible. It was all paid for by comparatively wealthy overseas customers and orchestrated by crime groups who exploited children for financial gain.
Seventeen people were arrested in Britain of which five have already been convicted. In the Philippines itself, eleven are suspected of facilitating the abuse though suspects have been identified in several wealthy European countries as well as Australia, the US, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
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- to track down
to find and capture
people who do harmful, dishonest or illegal activities
- to unravel
to understand and/or break up something complicated by investigating it in detail
making it possible or easier