LYON, France – Close collaboration between law enforcement in Georgia, Israel and INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit has led to the removal from harm of an 11-year-old girl and the arrest of a man accused of sexually abusing her and sharing the sexual abuse images online. The girl’s mother was also arrested for allegedly participating in the production of the child sexual abuse materials.
The investigation began a year ago when victim identification specialists in the United States seized abuse images and shared them with their counterparts worldwide via INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.
Further images of the same victim were also added to the INTERPOL database by investigators in Australia and Denmark. The images were found online and also available for sale via various websites.
Analysis of the child sexual abuse material by INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon and investigators from its global specialist network identified clues which pointed to Georgia as the country where it was produced. Investigators believed the abuse had been ongoing for at least three years.
Additional intelligence suggested that the offender trading in the abuse material was residing in Israel. INTERPOL coordinated the investigative efforts through its National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Tbilisi and Jerusalem to positively identify the victim and the perpetrator.
Police in Georgia and Israel carried out a joint operation in early April, which resulted in the arrest of an Israeli man of Georgian origin who police said had traveled to Georgia several times to abuse the girl.
In addition, the victim was removed from further harm and her mother arrested for facilitating the sexual abuse, as well as producing more abuse materials of the girl and trading it to the perpetrator for money.
“This case highlights the need for international collaboration and how INTERPOL’s tools, services and operational assistance can be used to counter the speed and ease with which offenders network, exchange child abuse material and organize the exploitation of children using the Internet and other technologies,” said Michael Moran, the Head of INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit.
“The identification of the victim in this case led directly to the rescue and the arrest of her abusers. Victim identification must therefore be an integral part of any child exploitation investigation,” he concluded.
As a result of the investigation and arrests, more child sexual abuse material was discovered, which police hope will lead to the identification of further victims and perpetrators.