Three people have been arrested and a number of children rescued in the Philippines in an operation against online sex abuse led by a UK police force.
As part of Devon and Cornwall’s Operation Aero, two women and a man were arrested last week in Biliran and Culaba town in Biliran for live-streaming child sex abuse over Skype.
The operation followed the conviction of Alain Charlwood-Collings, aged 39, from Tiverton in Devon. As we reported last May, the 39-year-old was sentenced to 18 years for ordering child sex abuse.
During the trial, the court was told how he paid more than £33,000 for the sexual abuse of up to 46 victims while he watched and recorded them at his home.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Darren White said: “Our team were monitoring websites that his IP address was accessing and downloading images from which resulted in the discovery of over 100 hours of recorded abuse in 107 individual files. Amongst the 2,000 images, pictures also showed Charlwood-Collings abusing a child.
“Anatomical analysis of individual’s hands depicted in abuse footage and images led to the conviction of Charlwood-Collings.
“Following his conviction, assistance was requested from the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom to facilitate the transfer of investigative material from Operation Aero to authorities in the Philippines to assist in the apprehension of outstanding suspects and the rescuing of children.”
As a result of this warrant, the NBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division arrested three suspected traffickers and rescued 13 victims, including nine children aged as young as four. They are now in protective custody.
The number of victims is expected to rise in the coming weeks as the NBI continues its investigation.
DS White added: “This has been a protracted and difficult investigation. Our team are a group of specially trained officers in this criminal area who will leave no stone unturned in an effort to bring offenders to justice for these horrendous crimes.
“It is through extensive police collaboration both nationally and internationally that we have successfully been able to carry out the arrests and also safeguard 13 children.
“This could not have been achieved without the work carried out between the NBI, the NCA and authorities in the Philippines.
“Paedophiles are using increasingly sophisticated methods in order to carry on their offending and we, together with other law enforcement agencies, are also using increasingly sophisticated methods to catch them.”
The three arrested suspects are now facing criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 9775 (Anti-Pornography Act) in relation to RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act) and RA10364 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act).