Dozens arrested in New York, Australia and the UK in crackdown on child sex abuse
NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — Dozens of men have been arrested in New York, Australia and the United Kingdom as a result of three separate investigations into child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, authorities said on Wednesday.
In the United States, the New York County District Attorney’s Office announced that a total of 26 men have been arrested and charged for possession of videos and still images depicting child sexual assault. They are all residents of Manhattan and the arrests follow a 5-month investigation by authorities.
“These defendants stockpiled images of the brutal rapes and sexual assaults of tens of thousands of real children,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “These victims were made to engage in physically and psychologically damaging sexual assaults that were recorded and disseminated online, feeding the appetites of pedophiles for more victims. Every time a new image is created, a child is victimized. And every time someone views these images, these children are re-victimized.”
Vance said at least two of those arrested had expressed a desire to sexually assault children, while another person showed child pornography to other children in order to ‘desensitize’ them.
“The defendants in these cases traded images of child sexual assault the way that others trade baseball cards. They were curators of their collections, who carefully labeled, sorted and shared their cache with others,” Vance said, adding that they were caught before their behavior escalated to the physical abuse of children.
Parry Aftab, the founder and director of WiredSafety, said any child is at risk of being victimized. “Behind every single picture of child pornography there is the pain of a child or infant being brutally raped, molested and tortured. As powerful a medium as the Internet has been for good, it is also a tool used by pedophiles and creeps who feed on the pain of our children,” Aftab said.
The defendants in the cases used peer-to-peer technology to download and share images of child sexual assault. The victims in the images charged in this case are both male and female, and range in age from infants – as young as one – to teenagers.
According to documents filed in court, the defendants reside across the borough of Manhattan and work in a range of professions, some of which placed them in frequent contact with children. Joshua Ruiz, 32, who has worked as a substitute teacher in New York City public schools, is charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child, according to documents filed in court. Ruiz allegedly downloaded images of child sexual assault and engaged in online discussions about luring children for the purpose of committing a sexual assault.
Glen Barfield, 39, an architect, was charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child. Barfield shared images of child sexual assault with a 16-year-old boy who lived in Canada using an Internet video chat feature, according to prosecutors.
Several defendants are accused of possessing a vast collection of images of child sexual assault. On May 10, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigators and Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant on the home of Moshe Gerstein, 35, a corporate attorney at a New York law firm. Three computers and an external hard drive containing a collection of approximately 5,000 images of child sexual assault were seized in Gerstein’s home. Gerstein is charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child, according to his indictment.
Additionally, Miguel Caraballo, 29, a dishwasher at a restaurant that caters to children, was found in possession of hundreds of computer files containing images of child sexual assault following the execution of a search warrant on March 24. According to documents filed in court, the files in Caraballo’s computer were sorted according to age, with some folders for children as young as one year old. Caraballo is charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child.
Other arrests included Steven Roman, 30, an employee at a children’s shoe store, Sergio Quito, 36, a deli worker, Juan Santiago, 55, a drug store employee, Fernando Blanco, 36, a security guard, and Sefket Jadadic, 47, an Upper East Side building superintendent.
Meanwhile, in Australia, federal police announced the discovery of an online network that allegedly shared child pornography. A total of 11 men between the ages of 18 and 67 were arrested and subsequently charged in the nationwide operation.
“Over the past five months, the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) Child Protection Operations teams have executed search warrants across four Australian states. A total of 11 people have been charged with the sexual exploitation of children,” said AFP Commander Grant Edwards. “Storage devices including hard drives, USBs, smartphones, laptop computers, as well as other routers were seized.”
The devices seized are alleged to contain thousands of images and videos of child pornography. “During the operation, the AFP identified two children at risk and they have been removed from harm,” Edwards said.
According to police, AFP investigators used a covert account to identify those who were accessing the images. “This operation shows that if you access child sexual abuse images you will be investigated, charged and could face serious prison terms. The images accessed are of real children being abused and it’s a shocking thing,” Edwards added.
In the United Kingdom, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) announced the arrests of twelve people as the result of an investigation into child sexual exploitation. With more than 100 detectives involved, it was the largest ever investigation carried out by the GMP’s Major Incident Team (MIT).
“I hope today’s action shows people in Greater Manchester that the issue of sexual exploitation is one that we take extremely seriously,” said Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney. “This is the largest ever operation carried out by the Major Incident Team and we have had dozens of detectives, including a team from Stockport, working on this investigation.”
Sweeney said a number of teenage girls from Stockport had been the victim of sexual exploitation by the men, although few details were released. “It is believed there could ultimately be more victims in this case and officers now want to hear from anyone else who thinks they may have been sexually exploited,” he said.
The men were all arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the United Kingdom for the purposes of sexual exploitation, but were later released on bail until September. “I want to reassure the people of Greater Manchester that we have a number of operations currently targeting this kind of criminal behavior. I cannot go into details as that could jeopardize the operations, but people need to know this issue is at the top of GMP’s priorities,” Sweeney warned.
According to a 2005 U.S. study commissioned by the National Juvenile Online Victimization (NJOV), 40 percent of those arrested on child pornography possession were also found to have sexually abused children and around 80 percent of them had images of pre-pubescent children.
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