|In March, Europol had announced the bust of an even larger child pornography ring with 184 arrests [AP]
After a year-long investigation spanning 22 European countries, police have arrested 112 people suspected of being involved in child pornography
The investigation targeted people distributing "the most extreme forms of video material," including images of babies and toddlers being sexually abused or raped, Europol, the European police coordination agency said on Friday.
There are 269 suspects so far and more arrests are likely after the operation uncovered previously unknown networks of child sex offenders operating on different internet chat channels, said Rob Wainwright, Europol director.
Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, said the operation showed the "importance of cooperation between law enforcement authorities at European and international level to tackle criminal activities that know no
Wainwright called the operation a success, but warned that technology is making combating the spread of child pornography ever more difficult.
Europol noted in a statement that "the Internet is helping offenders to develop better techniques for sharing images on a global basis and for protecting their identity."
"The problems involved are becoming harder to police,'' he said. Among other issues, the sheer volume of encrypted material is daunting, and much of the information seized in raids is still awaiting analysis.
A single suspect in Switzerland had thousands of hours of high-definition video footage.The investigation was carried out under the leadership of Danish police, due to Danish expertise in analyzing the peer-to-peer networks that were used to share files.
In Denmark, 19 men, aged between 24 and 55 years old, are facing preliminary charges related to child pornography.
Jens Henrik Hoejbjerg, Denmark's chief of police, said 59 computers and 2,430 storage devices had been seized in Denmark alone.
"It is a huge amount for our investigators to handle," said Hoejbjerg. Europol has its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.
Investigators said one of the men arrested was in the process of grooming a young child and was arrested before an attempted face-to-face meeting. They did not disclose where.
In March, Europol announced the bust of an even larger child pornography ring, with 184 arrests and 670 suspects in 30 countries.
The countries involved in the investigation were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden,
Croatia, Norway and Switzerland.