July 26, 2020
Thanks to Flashraid99!
Brisbane – Australia
Both men stiffen as VG confronts them.
– Go ahead and publish what you know about us now, if you think it’s true, but be prepared for the consequences, says Jon.
Next to him in a Brisbane hamburger pub sits Paul.
VG has just told them what we’ve uncovered: that they run the world’s largest online forum for child sexual exploitation, “Childs Play”.
Jon, the Australian, turns pale. Paul, who is British, flushes crimson.
It is January 2017. At this point the two have been running the Childs Play website for three months. Under their supervision, thousands of members have shared photos and videos of children being sexually abused. A Norwegian member boasted of abusing children in his own family. Some members got together in person to commit abuse, which they filmed and shared on the forum.
It’s understandable that Jon and Paul look shocked. Finding them was thought to be impossible. The website they operate is on the so-called “dark web”. Encryption was supposed to keep the whereabouts of the server and the people behind it secret. VG has uncovered not only where but also from which computer the forum was run.
Jon and Paul’s cover is blown. They are not criminals. They work for the Australian police’s spearhead into the dark web: Task Force Argos. Jon Rouse heads the unit. Investigator Paul Griffiths has been in charge of numerous operations. VG can now reveal that Task Force Argos infiltrated the realm of child abusers inside the dark web for almost a year – and that the police unit itself shared photos of children being sexually abused.
How far should the police go in the service of good? How many wrongs should investigators be permitted to commit in pursuit of justice? The undercover operation in Australia, Operation Artemis, was part of a wide-ranging international police investigation.
VG has known about the operation since January and followed it closely, partly by monitoring traffic on the dark web and partly by obtaining information from police, judicial authorities and other sources around the world. When VG’s computer expert, Einar Otto Stangvik, began investigating the website and its Nordic members in the autumn of 2016, we had no idea he would uncover a secret police operation.
Only now can we tell the story of how Task Force Argos, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the police in Canada and Europe worked to unmask the leaders of the world’s largest online community of child sexual abusers.
From the start, Operation Artemis had a clear objective: identifying victims and their abusers. But in doing so was it necessary for the police to run a child exploitation forum for nearly a year?
In the United States, a mother weeps when she hears that VG has found that pictures of her daughter being sexually abused were shared by members, while the police operated the site.
– My daughter should not be used as a bait. If they are using her images, then she should be paid or compensated for their use. It is not right for the police to promote these images, says the mother.
Pictures of children from several other countries were also shared during the same period.
The police deny they are responsible for what was shared on Childs Play while they ran it.
– We don’t create these sites. We do not want them to exist. When we do find them, we infiltrate and get as high as possible in the networks administrative structure to destroy it. But we will never create a forum for child sex offenders, says Jon Rouse.”
…..TAP-Net Website | Sub-Blog Archive