Germany authorities arrested four individuals in connection with a site devoted to child pornography. The site on the dark web had 400,000 registered users from around the world.
The international operation, involving several police forces, targeted a dark net platform called Boystown, which has now been taken down.
Officials say Boystown had more than 400,000 registered users.
They say some images showed the most serious sexual abuse of young children.
All of this was apparently run by three German men, one of whom had moved to Paraguay. The fourth man arrested was one of the site’s most frequent contributors.
The suspects included a 40-year-old man from Paderborn, a 49-year-old man from Munich and a 58-year-old man from northern Germany who had been living in Paraguay for many years, the prosecutors’ statement added.
They allegedly worked as administrators of the site and gave advice to members on how to evade law enforcement when using the platform.
A fourth suspect, a 64-year-old man from Hamburg, is accused of being one of the most active users, having allegedly uploaded more than 3,500 posts.
The NY Times adds that this bush followed months of investigation led by Germany. Germany has also just last month passed a law that would allow harsher sentences for those convicted of these crimes.
Last month, the German Parliament passed a law to expand the authorities’ abilities to pursue those suspected of harming children and increase the prison terms for anyone convicted of sexually abusing minors to a maximum of 15 years. Those convicted of spreading child exploitation and abuse would face up to 10 years in prison — double the previous maximum sentence.
Lawmakers pointed to criminal statistics that showed a 65 percent increase in the number of crimes involving child sexual exploitation or abuse from 2018 to 2019, as evidence that Germany needs to toughen its laws to protect children. Approval before the upper house is pending.
But some believe Germany still has a long way to go in punishing pedophiles. Last week a court in Dusseldorf gave a former soccer star a 10-month suspended sentence after he was found guilty of sending child porn from his phone to three women. He apparently had 297 such images on his phone:
Metzelder told the court: “I obtained incriminating pictures that were freely available on the internet (and) took screenshots.
“I shared extreme fantasies in chats.”
Germany striker Lukas Podolski, who played alongside Metzelder in the national team, tweeted “Sickening” alongside a newspaper report about the crime.
He told Bild: “I just can’t understand a ten-month suspended sentence. This is not about sticking a label on a prominent perpetrator.
I don’t see how someone who is not only collecting but spreading this kind of thing could get a suspended sentence. Apparently one of the women he sent to images to reported him to police which makes me wonder about the other two women and what is wrong with them that they didn’t report him.
What’s especially disgusting about the German site that was shut down is that only a handful of people stand any chance of being punished for it. That leaves hundreds of thousands of creepy users around the world, some of them no doubt here in the US, who will just move on to the next site. In fact, that’s the point made by a German federal police officer in this DW report on the shutdown of the German site. He said he expects some similar site will pop up fairly soon.