French authorities take down paedophile ring with at least 120 victims

Europe  Sameer al-DoumyAFP
FEB 22, 2024 LISTEN
© Sameer al-Doumy/AFP

Six men have been taken into custody after French authorities discovered nearly a million images and videos of child pornography involving at least 120 victims identified, 22 of them French.

Six men, aged 36 to 61 years old, are accused of possessing child pornography, and some are accused of making the images themselves by raping and sexually abusing children.

The gendarmerie said it has seized 930,000 pornographic photos and videos of children.

Authorities have not identified the nationalities of the men, who were all members of the same group, according to FranceInter radio. Some were already arrested in April 2023, and one is in detention in Belgium.

After investigators from Orleans first discovered suspect images online in 2022, they launched an investigation and soon found groups on the ICQ instant messaging platform sharing the pornographic images.

Investigators suspect that many of the images were of acts committed by the group members themselves.

Some are being investigated for rape and prostitution of minors, according to the AFP news agency.

Among the 120 victims, all are francophone, and 22 are French children aged 3 to 15 years old.

The children were threatened and harassed into committing the acts, out of fear of retaliation. Some of the victims are related to the suspects.

The investigation into the images is ongoing, and other victims could be identified.

(with AFP)