BERLIN – German police said Wednesday they had broken up an international child pornography network that exchanged pedophile images on the Internet and sexually abused children.
Police raided the homes and workplaces of 121 suspected members of the German-language porn network across Germany on Tuesday evening, arresting nine of its suspected leaders.
Authorities in Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada and the United States simultaneously carried out raids on 15 further suspected members.
Austrian police said at a news conference in Vienna that 22 people worldwide had been arrested. Members of the network had abused their own children or those of their partners and friends, police said.
Police said members of the network exchanged pornography online and discussed their own experiences of abusing children. Several members made films and photos of their sexual abuse of children and shared them on the Internet.
“There are most certainly further culprits out there,” said Austrian investigator Harald Gremel.
Last March, Austrian police said they had broken an Internet child porn ring that stretched across 170 countries, charging nearly 200 men and confiscating 14,000 computers, hard drives and discs.
At least 189 Austrians were charged at the time with downloading and dealing in child pornography and another 97 were under investigation.
Germany this year passed a law making it harder to access child pornography online and easier to prosecute those who use it. Around 800 police officers were involved in the raids in Germany, confiscating 220 computers.