AUSTRALIAN police have helped law enforcement authorities trace a child sex abuse video discovered by Belgian and French investigators to a Spanish man.
The suspect allegedly produced explicit videos of a young boy – aged under five – to gain access to sites and forums on the dark web dedicated to child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The dark web is part of the World Wide Web hidden from most users.
It requires special software and is designed to allow users to remain anonymous or untraceable. It is known to be used by criminals and terrorists.
International cooperation was key to cracking the case: Europol supported Spanish police by analysing information received from Queensland Police in Australia.
Europol found that a video from 2015 discovered in Belgium and France may have been filmed in Spain.
Europol experts found that the suspect was registered on several websites and dark web internet boards dedicated to child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The investigation revealed that the suspect was also using a social media network where he was in touch with a woman who shared the same surname as the one in the title of the sexual abuse video.
Once the alleged abuser was located in Barcelona, Spanish cybercrime experts in Madrid moved to the Catalan city where they made an arrest.
Material seized showed how the suspect was allegedly using several email addresses and dark web access points to commit this horrific crime.
The material is pending analysis, which could provide important clues about other child sex abusers on the dark web.
Fernando Ruiz, Acting Head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol, said: “‘This type of international cooperation during the COVID-19 crisis shows how children are being protected as a priority by law enforcement from all over the world.
“Europol is proud to support this investigation and to bring together the contributions of the Member States and non-EU partners to help identify those sexually exploiting and abusing children.
“We encourage everyone to be aware of the potential dangers to children during this time.”