GERMAN police have reportedly shut down “one of the biggest darknet child pornography platforms in the world” as part of a huge online crackdown on paedophilia.
They claim to have arrested four of the 400,000 members of the “Boystown” network in a series of raids that took place in mid-April.
The platform had existed since 2019 and was “set up for the worldwide exchange of child pornography,” federal police said in a statement.
The darknet forum allowed users to communicate with others and share graphic image and video content which included “serious sexual abuse of toddlers,” they added.
Three men between the ages of 40 and 64 were arrested in seven raids in Germany, while a further suspect was detained in Paraguay on the request of German authorities, according to a report in Bild.
The suspect in Paraguay’s Concepcion region, also a German citizen, is to be extradited back to Germany on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by a court in Frankfurt.
Hesse’s Justice Minister, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, has hailed the shut down of the network a “fantastic success in the fight against sexual violence against children and young people.”
She added: “The air for all people who participate in the distribution of the worst photos and videos is getting thinner.”
Three of the men who have been caught are accused of having managed the platform as administrators, providing technical support and advice to members on how to avoid being discovered by the authorities.
Police say that it included the arrest of “one of the platform’s most active user.”
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Investigators confirmed that the months-long, German-instigated operation had been coordinated by Europol and supported by law enforcement in the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and Canada.
Both “Boystown” and other chat platforms were taken offline following the raids.