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South African police say international kiddie porn ring broken

Aug. 21, 2013 at 7:38 AM   |   Comments

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Six people were arrested in what police said is South Africa's largest child pornography ring that reaches across the globe.

Police said a school principal -- who is also an award-winning author -- two teachers, a lawyer, a dermatologist and businessmen from across South Africa were arrested in an operation run simultaneously with arrests overseas, The (Johannesburg) Times reported Wednesday.

Police said they were investigating another 26 people and more arrests were pending. The arrests began last week.

In an operation detectives described as "sickening," children as young as 5 are believed to have been groomed to have sex with each other and adults, people knowledgeable of the operation told The Times. They said the operation extended into Canada, Britain, the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Police in South Africa said they were working with their international law enforcement counterparts to investigate whether any South African children were involved in the kiddie porn ring. Police overseas also were investigating whether any of the children were killed.

People close to the investigation told The Times South African police were tipped by a foreign law enforcement agency after dozens of computers were seized in raids. International police discovered addresses of hundreds of alleged pedophiles worldwide.

After the arrests late last week, police stormed dozens of homes across South Africa and seized computers, DVDs, books, magazines, computer memory sticks, cameras, video cameras and other digital recording devices.

Police had "a good case with solid evidence," a lawyer with knowledge of the case told The Times. "It is going to be difficult for these guys to get away, even with the claim that they downloaded the child pornography by accident."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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