An Internet pedophile ring with up to 70,000 members — thought to be the world’s largest —has been uncovered by police, a security official said Wednesday.
The European police agency Europol said in a statement that “Operation Rescue” had identified 670 suspects and that 230 abused children in 30 countries had been taken to safety. More children are expected to be found, Europol said.
It said that so far 184 people had been arrested and investigations in some countries were continuing. Most of those detained are suspected of direct involvement in sexually abusing children.
They include teachers, police officers and scout leaders, AP reported. One Spaniard who worked at summer youth camps is suspected of abusing some 100 children over five years.
Europol director Rob Wainwright said Wednesday the ring, which communicated using an Internet forum, was “probably the largest online pedophile network in the world.”
Cori Bassett, a public affairs officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an email that there had been five arrests and four convictions in connection with Operation Rescue in the U.S.
“Arrests so far have been made in Georgia and Connecticut. ICE continues to pursue the leads provided by Europol,” she added.
The website was shut down following the three-year investigation, Europol said.
“The website operated from a server based in the Netherlands and, at its height, boasted up to 70,000 members worldwide,” it added.
Police have conducted a raid at one of the largest daycare chains in the D.C. region after a teacher’s aid was arrested for sexually abusing students.
Officers in unmarked vehicles were seen at Minnieland Academy in Bristow, Virginia Tuesday night, carrying a few computers and brown paper bags full of materials.
Some Minnieland employees remained inside the office during the raid. This comes the same night as a community town hall led by Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson.
Former Minnieland employee Taylor Boykin is accused of sexually assaulting four young children. Boykin, who was denied bond, happens to live just a few blocks away from the daycare. His home was also raided by investigators earlier this week.
It’s the latest case of abuse to hit the popular Northern Virginia chain. The company has also dealt with lawsuits from a child cruelty scandal at Woodbridge in 2013 and a sexual assault incident at Centreville in 2010.
The company tells FOX 5 they conducted a background check on Boykin when he started working for Minnieland seven years ago. But maintaining records is a different story.