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Internet pedophilia ring shattered; 31 children rescued

More than 700 suspects are identified amid inquiries worldwide. The British ringleader is sent to prison.

June 19, 2007|From the Associated Press

LONDON — A team of international investigators infiltrated an Internet chat room used by pedophiles, rescuing 31 children and identifying more than 700 suspects worldwide.

The chat room, called "Kids the Light of Our Lives," featured images, including live videos, of children being subjected to horrific sexual abuse, said Jim Gamble, chief executive of Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center.

Police analyzed images and videos traded by the chat room's members for clues that could help them identify, locate and rescue the victims.

More than 15 of the children were found in Britain, Gamble said, declining to give further details. An official in Canada said authorities there arrested 24 Canadians and rescued seven children as part of the investigation. Four people have been arrested in Australia, including one who was previously convicted of child pornography charges, officials said today.

It was unclear whether any of the rescued children had been reported missing.

Undercover officers in Britain, the U.S., Canada and Australia were involved in busting up the ring. Gamble said the investigation involved agencies from 35 countries. Police did not distribute illegal images, he said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment because the agency's investigation is continuing in at least 12 states, which were not identified. Police in Germany also are investigating two men in connection with the ring, the country's Federal Crime Office said.

Investigators made the case public after the sentencing of ringleader Timothy David Martyn Cox in Ipswich, England, on Monday.

Cox, 27, was given an indeterminate sentence, meaning he will remain in prison until authorities decide he is no longer a threat to children. One of his accomplices, Gordon Mackintosh, has pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images and videos. He awaits sentencing.

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