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07 August 2018

Child abuse victims rescued in Spanish operation supported by INTERPOL

LYON, France – Five victims of child sexual abuse have been rescued and their attacker arrested in Spain just six days after Australian police shared videos via INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.

Abusive images of girls aged between five and seven years had been posted on a website featuring child abuse on the TOR network.

After Queensland’s Task Force Argos shared the images via ICSE, INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children’s unit identified Spain as the potential location of the abuse and flagged the images to the Spanish National Police.

Further analysis by Spain’s Central Cybercrime Unit pinpointed a neighbourhood near Madrid. Additional examination of the man’s hands led investigators to believe he may be a mechanic, and the search was narrowed down to workshops in a specific area.

After a canvas sheet similar to one which appeared in videos was spotted at one of the addresses, a surveillance operation was set up. A man who potentially fit the suspect’s profile was observed leaving the premises later that day and followed home.

The next morning officers stopped the 46-year-old Romanian national on his way to work and identified him from a tattoo on his arm which was the same as seen in the videos. He was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and the production and distribution of child sexual abuse images.

A search of the offender’s house led to the discovery of a large amount of computer equipment including five mini-cams which had been used to record the victims when they went to the bathroom.

Further enquiries by the officers then led to the identification of his five victims who all lived within the vicinity.

The International Child Sexual Exploitation database

Available through INTERPOL's secure global police communications system, the ICSE database uses sophisticated image and video comparison software to make connections between victims, abusers and places. It allows specialized investigators from 54 member countries, as well as Europol, to share data with colleagues across the world.

By analysing the digital, visual and audio content of photographs and videos, experts can retrieve clues, identify any overlap in cases and combine their efforts to locate victims of child sexual abuse.

Enhanced features in Version 4 launched earlier this year include advanced sorting of videos and images, chat functions and interconnection with national child exploitation databases. ICSE version 4 is the culmination of a 30-month project funded with the support of the European Commission.

To date, more than 14,000 victims have been identified via the ICSE database, leading to the arrest of nearly 6,300 offenders worldwide.

What is the ICSE database?

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