Investigators have arrested more than 100 pedophiles worldwide since Canadian police began probing an Internet chat room two years ago used by pedophiles who showed live videos of children being raped.
Toronto Police Sgt. Paul Krawczyk said Wednesday he has been involved in 82 arrests globally and says the total number is well over 100.
British officials announced Monday 700 new suspects in 35 countries have been identified. They said 31 children have been rescued since they began their part of the investigation last August.
A U.S. investigation is ongoing. In March 2006, U.S. authorities announced charges against 27 people, including 15 Americans in 11 states. Of the 15 there have been 11 convictions, one suicide and three cases pending.
Kim Scanlan of the Toronto police child exploitation unit said 24 have been arrested in Canada as part of the probe. Four people have been arrested in Australia. British police say there are 200 suspects in Britain.
Paul Gillespie, former head of the Toronto exploitation unit, expects more than 700 arrests worldwide. He said countries have been sent information on the suspects.
"It's a manpower issue for law enforcement around the world. It's not a shortage of who to go after," Gillespie said. "Every country in the world has been sent the information and it's up to them to pursue these individuals and arrest them."
British Investigators made the latest stage of the probe public after the sentencing of ringleader Timothy David Martyn Cox on Monday.
Cox's chat room, which was called "Kids the Light of Our Lives", featured images, including live videos, of children - some only months old - being subjected to horrific sexual abuse, officials said.
Cox, 27, was given an indeterminate jail sentence, meaning he will remain in prison until authorities decide he is no longer a threat to children. One of his accomplices, Gordon Mackintosh, has pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images and videos. He is awaiting sentencing.
The probe began in Canada in the spring of 2005 after a woman overheard two children talk about not receiving candy after being sexually abused by their stepfather. The man was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in jail for abuse and distributing pictures on the Internet. The man told police he had been in contact with other pedophiles through an online chat room called Kiddypics & Kiddyvids. Krawczyk and other undercover officers began frequenting that chat room and arrested the site's primary host, who used the online alias "G.O.D."
Cox had been a member of that U.S.-based online chat room that was shut down by U.S. authorities in March 2006. His online identity, "Son of God," was believed to be a reference to the host of the "Kiddypics & Kiddyvids" site in the U.S. case who adopted the username "G.O.D."
Despite the announcement of the arrests in March 2006 - broadcast live on CNN in a news conference given by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - Cox and others continued to share videos and images, officials said.
Cox made Krawczyk, who was working undercover, the only other administrator of the chat room.
"He made the only cop in the room an administrator. Bad luck on his part," Krawczyk said.
Krawczyk tipped off authorities in London that they believed the chat room's host was based in Britain.
Police arrested Cox on Sept. 28, charging him with nine offenses related to possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Forensic teams examining Cox's computer found 75,960 indecent and explicit images and evidence that he had supplied 11,491 images to other site users.
Julian Sher, author of One Child At a Time: Inside the Global Hunt to Rescue Children from Online Predators, says the arrests show police have come a long way in monitoring pedophiles.
"Predators always had a cockiness because they ruled the internet for the longest time," Sher said. "They counted on the fact that police were fairly slow on the technological up take. Predators work on this 24/7. They have the best encryption. They live and breathe this. The cops were typing on two fingers 10 years ago."
In 2001 Gillespie founded Toronto's elite Child Exploitation Section, acclaimed for its work tracking down child pornographers on the Internet. Microsoft Corp. teamed up with the detectives in 2005 to launch a software program designed to help police forces around the world hunt down child porn Internet traffickers.
The Child Exploitation unit started with three officers and now has 15. The unit is credited with helping Florida police locate a young girl who had appeared in a series of sexually explicit photographs taken at a Walt Disney World hotel.
Gillespie now advises police around the world as an independent consultant.
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