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14 Suspects Nabbed in Online Child Sexual Abuse Sweep

January 25, 2021

Eight minors identified as potential victims and 1 058 illicit images seized

A nation-wide operation led by the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) with the support of Europol that targeted suspects who sexually exploited children online has netted 14 arrests. Code-named ‘Horus’ the operation took place between 16 and 20 November 2020. The alleged suspects used social media networks to approach minors aged between 12 and 13 and lured them into sharing intimate images and videos. The arrested suspects are said to have had no links between them and three have already been sentenced. With investigations still ongoing, operation Horus has contributed to identifying eight potential victims and the seizure of 1 058 illicit images.

Coordinated by C3N, the French Gendarmerie’s cybercrime centre, over 50 cyber-investigators tracked the online activities of a large volume of users. Suspected users often swapping pseudonyms made the investigations complex.

Europol provided support during the action days with operational analysis and real-time database cross-checks to enable the identification of potential suspects and victims.

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) supports competent authorities in Member States in preventing and detecting all forms of criminality associated with the sexual exploitation of children. It provides assistance and expertise in combating the distribution of child abuse material through all kinds of online environments and tackles all forms of criminal online behaviour against children, such as grooming, self-generated illicit material, sexual extortion and live-streaming.

Online sexual coercion and extortion is a crime.

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