LYON, France – A year-long investigation supported by INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit which began in the United States has led to the arrest in Russia of a man accused of sexually abusing his eight-year-old niece and sharing the images and videos online.
The investigation started in November 2012, when authorities in the US seized abuse images and shared them with victim identification specialists worldwide via INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.
After reaching out to INTERPOL’s global network of victim identification specialists, further images of the same victim – some depicting abuse, some ordinary photographs – were also found and shared by investigators in Denmark.
Analysis of the child sexual abuse material by INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon and expert investigators from several countries indicated the images were generated in Eastern Europe. Clues from a specific image led the Crimes Against Children unit, with the support of an INTERPOL colleague from the region, to determine the victim was located in Russia.
The case was referred to the Russian authorities via the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Moscow. Using the information supplied by INTERPOL, Russian police continued the investigation and positively identified the perpetrator, who they believed had been abusing the victim for at least three years.
Police arrested the man and raided his home, where they seized computer equipment containing more than 500 GB of child sexual abuse material depicting several different victims. The victim has been removed from harm and given psychological care.
“This case is a clear example of how international collaboration, supported by INTERPOL’s global tools, is crucial to catching these predators who believe they are protected by the anonymity of the Internet,” said Michael Moran, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Sub-directorate.
“The importance of ensuring that all child abuse and exploitation material is analysed cannot be understated. Anyone coming into the possession of such material should ensure that it is given to law enforcement to maximize the chances for identifying the victims. Only through the collective efforts of a global network of victim identification specialists can we hope to identify more victims and bring the perpetrators to justice,” added Mr Moran.
Enquiries are ongoing to identify and locate the other victims depicted in the abuse material.
In addition to the ISCE database, to further enhance global law enforcement efforts in identifying abuse victims, the INTERPOL Victim Identification Laboratory (ViLab) was launched in 2012. The ViLab is a mobile investigative tool that allows trained users to view child sexual abuse images – which can be sanitized depending on the audience – from ongoing and unsolved investigations, to help identify their locations.