Operation Landslide - INTERPOL instrumental in global child pornography investigation

16 October 2002

Co-ordinated police action in many INTERPOL member countries throughout the world has recently resulted in a large number of arrests for offences related to child pornography. This successful enforcement action arises directly from close co-operation between the US Postal Inspection Service and INTERPOL.

In 1999 during an operation in Fort Worth, Texas, the US Postal Inspection Service seized data listing individuals from every continent who had purchased access to a web site supplying child pornography. Over 389,000 entries were listed. Once the ensuing police activity had been completed in the United States, INTERPOL was asked to analyse the intelligence with a view to action being initiated in countries beyond North America.

As a result, INTERPOL's General Secretariat produced separate databases relating to over 60 countries, which were then circulated to those member countries known to have legislation controlling child pornography. In response to this proactive approach, thousands of searches have been made in many countries throughout the world. Large quantities of child pornography materials have been and continue to be seized. A significant number of individuals have been identified, many of whom work with children or otherwise hold public office or positions of trust in the community.

INTERPOL, the US Postal Inspection Service, and the many countries involved, have been in regular contact with each other during the planning of the operations. Briefings have taken place at the INTERPOL General Secretariat, where officers have been collating results and providing assistance wherever possible.

Thousands of law enforcement officers have been operationally involved as a result of INTERPOL's analysis of the intelligence seized by the US Postal Inspection Service. This has made it the largest and most successful operation to date, aimed at identifying and targeting those involved in the collection and distribution of photographs of children being sexually abused.

Background notes for the News Editor:

  • The US Postal Inspection Service conducted the initial operation and made the intelligence available for other countries. It was not, as frequently reported, the FBI.
  • The INTERPOL General Secretariat will not comment on which countries have taken action and with what results, other than in very broad terms. Any enquiries should be referred to the country or countries of interest.