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Child porn becoming more violent

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Horrific images of infant pornography and sexual fantasies relating to child abuse. These are just some of the things which form part of a police investigation, dubbed Cloud 9, into an online child pornography ring. So far, the investigation has led to six arrests in South Africa in recent months. People were caught in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, and Midrand.

“Is there a modus operandi? Think of one and it exists. It gets more violent, more atrocious, more horrific,” Chief Inspector Tim van Eester of the Antwerp police in Belgium told reporters in Johannesburg.

He is collaborating with his South African counterparts in the Cloud 9 matter. It is a worldwide child pornography syndicate in which pictures and videos of newborn babies being abused are produced and circulated.

“The trend that we see is not a good one. It gets more violent,” Van Eester said of the images officers have seen.

This is the dark side of the internet. Increasing ease of access and cheaper data costs are making such crimes easier to perpetrate, he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Heila Niemand leads the police’s Gauteng unit looking into child porn cases. It was established two years ago.

The Cloud 9 syndicate emerged with an arrest in Canada. Interpol became involved and South African police were sent for training with the FBI in the US. Arrests were made in Belgium and South Africa.

“If it wasn’t for the international co-operation, we would not have identified these predators abusing our children, our babies,” Niemand said.

She said in the Cloud 9 investigation none of the child victims identified thus far were from South Africa. They were from “across the world”.

The Grahamstown suspect was linked to 900 children traced to the USA.

Since the South African police established their child pornography unit two years ago, there had been 46 arrests. Several of them had been convicted and sentenced to date.

Van Eester said there were an estimated 140 million unique videos and images of child abuse on the internet. Those were just the ones that had been detected. In the last decade 5 400 child victims had been identified.

Child porn was a multi-million dollar business that needed thorough and aggressive international co-operation, he said. News24


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