BRASILIA • Brazil says it has nabbed 108 people and uncovered over 150,000 electronic files containing disturbing images, including assaults on babies, in "one of the biggest operations in the world" against paedophiles.
Among those arrested were retired policemen, civil servants and people in charge of football youth clubs, the BBC reported.
The arrests were made in 24 states in Brazil and the capital city of Brasilia - almost the entire country - after a six-month investigation involving United States and European immigration officials, said a statement issued by Brazil's Ministry of Justice last Friday.
The suspects were part of an Internet paedophile ring that shared pornographic images of children through computers and mobile phones. They employed sophisticated techniques to evade police detection.
"They store their illegal, criminal photos in a computer of someone in another part of the country or even abroad," Justice Minister Torquato Jardim was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"And often the people storing the content are unaware."
More than 1,100 agents took part in what federal police said was "one of the biggest operations in the world".
They store their illegal, criminal photos in a computer of someone in another part of the country or even abroad. And often the people storing the content are unaware.
BRAZIL JUSTICE MINISTER TORQUATO JARDIM.
NO GETTING AWAY
Suspects were caught red-handed with pornographic material of a paedophile nature seized from their computers or mobile phones.
A SPOKESMAN FOR THE JUSTICE MINISTRY.
"Suspects were caught red-handed with pornographic material of a paedophile nature seized from their computers or mobile phones," a spokesman for the Justice Ministry told Agence France-Presse.
At least 178 search warrants were issued but the authorities say the number could increase due to the sheer size of the network, German broadcaster DW reported.
The BBC said the operation initially targeted suspects who shared paedophile material, but investigators later found out that the criminal group was also producing pornographic material to distribute on the Internet.
The files contained disturbing images of babies and young children being abused, the British broadcaster added.
It is not clear if the paedophile ring is connected to other criminal networks in other countries.
In March, police arrested 39 suspects in about a dozen countries across Europe and Latin America after busting an online paedophile ring that used the WhatsApp chat service to share images of child sex abuse, according to Europe's policing agency Europol.
Spanish police said the photos and videos seized showed "humiliating treatment" and "excessive brutality" involving children as young as babies to those up to eight years old.
Spanish police said they found handwritten material at a house they searched listing the names, ages and places where encounters with minors took place. Some of them dated back 20 years.