Global paedophile network smashed
The investigation exposed more than 50,000 members in the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand, where some of the first arrests were made.
The network hid behind a legal online forum, boylover.net, which operated from a server based in the Netherlands but had members from around the world. The site operated as a discussion-only forum where members could share their sexual interest in young boys without committing specific offences. Having made contact, members would move to more private channels such as email to exchange and share illegal images of children being abused.
"What we show today is that while these offenders felt anonymous in some way because they were using the internet to communicate, the technology was actually being used against them. Everything they did online, everyone they talked to or anything they shared could and was tracked by following the digital footprint.
"We are grateful to the support of our law enforcement colleagues both nationally and internationally who have supported Ceop in this operation."
Operation Rescue began in 2007, after Ceop and Australian police independently discovered the site. They were already working together as part of the Virtual Global Taskforce to target online child sexual abuse and joined forces. Covert investigators infliltrated the site to identify members who posed the biggest risk to children