Global Pedophile Ring Busted for Webcam Scheme

Pedophiles paid to watch children being abused on webcams in the Philippines

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Police in the U.K. announced Thursday a string of arrests in a massive sting operation to break up an international child abuse ring, in which pedophiles paid to watch children molested live on webcams in the Philippines.

Investigators in Britain, the United States and Australia dismantled the organized gang of pedophiles, leading to the arrests of 29 people in 12 countries, the Associated Press reports. “Operation Endeavor,” as the sting was codenamed, ultimately identified 733 suspects.

The investigation began after authorities checked on registered British sex offender Timothy Ford and found explicit images of child abuse on his computer. Ford was sentenced in March to eight and a half years in prison and his co-conspirator, Thomas Owen, on whose computer were found 4 million images depicting child abuse, was sentenced in July to seven years.

Britain’s National Crime Agency coordinated with Australian Federal Police and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the NGO International Justice Mission, to gather evidence identifying both suspects and suspected victims. In the Philippines, 15 children ages 6 to 15 were placed custody of social welfare services.

Authorities said live-streaming webcams are an emerging threat to the welfare of children in impoverished countries like the Philippines, where parents are enticed to allow their children to be sexually abused in exchange for hundreds of dollars.