Hundreds of alleged paedophiles have been arrested after an international operation following the conviction of one of the UK’s worst-ever child sex offenders.
The National Crime Agency said 337 suspects had been arrested in 38 countries including the UK, Ireland, America, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Canada following an operation by an international taskforce.
The arrests came after the NCA discovered the secret Welcome to Video website, which contained more than 250,000 horrific videos that had been downloaded more than a million times.
The NCA said the site, run from South Korea, monetised the sexual abuse of children and was one of the first to offer videos for sale using bitcoin.
The NCA uncovered Welcome To Video during its investigation into the geophysicist Dr Matthew Falder, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence after admitting 137 offences including encouraging child rape and sharing images of a newborn baby being abused in 2017.
In the UK, 18 investigations were developed from the intelligence and seven men have already been convicted.
The most heinous UK case to come from Welcome To Video led to 26-year-old Kyle Fox being jailed for 22 years in March this year for raping a five-year-old boy and appearing on Welcome To Video sexually abusing a three-year-old girl.
Welcome To Video was taken down by an international taskforce set up by the NCA and included Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in America, the South Korean National Police and Germany’s Federal Criminal Police.
337 suspects have been arrested globally in multi-agency operations after a dark web child abuse site – containing more than 250,000 horrific videos – was taken down by an international taskforce set up by the NCA— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) October 16, 2019
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The NCA said officers from its National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) used specialist capabilities to identify that Welcome To Video was being run from South Korea by 23-year-old Jong Woo Son.
In March 2018 officers travelled to South Korea and, in conjunction with IRS and HSI, advised police on their operational plan, helped with Son’s arrest and assisted with the server’s take down.
On Wednesday Son, who has already been convicted and jailed in his home country, was charged with nine counts in the United States relating to him running the website.
Dark web child sex offenders cannot hide from law enforcement. They’re not as cloaked as they think they are, they’re not as safe as they think they are.— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) October 16, 2019
Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations, said: “Dark web child sex offenders – some of whom are the very worst offenders – cannot hide from law enforcement. They’re not as cloaked as they think they are, they’re not as safe as they think they are.
“The NCA is relentless in pursuing them and we have specialist capabilities, which we use for all UK law enforcement, to unmask them and help take down sites like Welcome To Video.
“I’m immensely proud of the role we played in catching some very depraved and dangerous global offenders and for beginning the work that eventually caught Jong Woo Son.”