30 nabbed possessing child pornography

Police believe the men downloaded illegal materials secretly stored on legitimate websites by hackers.

abuse victim 88 (photo credit: )
abuse victim 88
(photo credit: )
The Israel Police announced Wednesday that they had rounded up a large number of suspected pedophiles who had downloaded - and distributed - illicit materials through the Internet, but said that the operation was only one stage of a larger plan for 2008 to crack down on the phenomenon of Internet pedophilia. Police revealed that 30 suspects had been detained for questioning on suspicion of holding or publishing illicit material concerning juveniles that they obtained through the Internet. The operation was carried out after police received complaints through Interpol, from different police organizations worldwide. From the initial complaints a suspicion arose that Israeli Web surfers entered a legitimate Web site that had been broken in to and used it to post illicit material relating to minors, which others then downloaded. The material included pictures that police believe were acquired by exploiting minors. The plan for the operational activity was put together by the Investigations Department and the Lahav 433 Unit. The activity was carried out within all police districts, as well as by the computer crimes unit of Lahav 433. Members of Israel's six police districts detained 22 suspects and Lahav 433 arrested an additional eight others. Police said most of the suspects do not have a prior police record involving juvenile sex crimes, and police said they did not find any connections among them, other than their suspected use of the Web site. During the investigation, police searched suspects' houses, during which computers and other relevant digital information were confiscated, police said. "The Internet is a tool that is available and accessible to everyone, including juveniles, and one can surf it in great privacy, because oversight is highly limited. These qualities have turned it into a comfortable vehicle to carry out various and assorted criminal acts, including sex crimes," said a spokesperson for the National Headquarters Wednesday. Police said the phenomenon of Internet-based pedophilia is widespread, and that its implications have spread across national boundaries and have significant social and ethical impact. They asked to remind the public that the production of pedophilic materials physically and emotionally damages minors. Possessing such material is itself a crime in Israel. The international pedophile "community" frequently uses the services of hackers, who - as in this case - bring down legitimate sites and take control of their servers' storage areas to distribute the illicit materials. Police emphasized that this means it is very difficult to innocently access the pedophilic materials, as only members of the "community" are informed as to where it can be downloaded. In January, Lahav 433's computer crimes unit targeted an additional 10 suspects who also were found to be in possession of pedophilic materials, including computer data. In that case, police said, the investigation is nearly complete, and in the near future the case file will be passed on to prosecutors to prepare indictments. Police said that the two recent investigations were part of a larger plan to crack down on Web-based pedophilia throughout 2008. In addition, police are currently looking into acquiring new technology that will allow them to respond more effectively to similar instances of crime.