New Zealand authorities arrested 46 people as part of an international operation into tens of thousands of accounts possessing and sharing child sexual abuse material online, Europol said.
The arrests were part of a probe launched in 2019 after an online service provider’s report indicated “a large number of offenders used the platform to exchange particularly disturbing child abuse images”, Europe’s law enforcement cooperation agency said.
The report included references to “imagery depicting sadistic acts of sexual abuse of infants and children”, a Europol statement said.
The operation, led by New Zealand’s interior ministry, saved 146 children across the world, it said.
The investigation identified more than 90,000 online accounts worldwide and information was shared with relevant national authorities, Europol said.
The agency said 100 suspects were identified across the European Union while 836 cases were opened internationally.
Two cases in Austria and Hungary, found suspects abusing their own children, aged six and eight respectively.
The children have now been “safeguarded”, Europol said.
Another probe in Spain discovered a suspect owned and shared child sexual exploitation material and had also filmed naked and sexual images of adults without their permission.
Several investigations continue in EU states.
© Agence France-Presse