12 November 2015

VGT announces over 300 arrests from Operation Atlas

Members of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) today announced the results of Operation Atlas, a global initiative to highlight investigations being conducted by VGT law enforcement members into the sharing and distribution of child exploitation material online.

Operation Atlas was conducted from June 29 to October 23 with the participation of ten VGT members: the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Colombian National Police, Dutch National Police (DNP), Cybercrime Coordination Unit of Switzerland, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), New Zealand Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the United Arab Emirates Ministry of the Interior and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

United Arab Emirates police representative and chairman of the VGT Major General/Dr. Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of HH Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior welcomed the announcement of the result of Operation Atlas and added, “Through the cooperative efforts of law enforcement agencies, children can be protected from those seeking to exploit them. Even though no children in the United Arab Emirates were identified as victims, the persons arrested show the priority the Ministry of Interior places on collaboration in the global efforts to protect children and identify offenders.”

“Operation Atlas demonstrates the need for continued international engagement and cooperation to prevent children from becoming victims of online sexual exploitation and the global pursuit of those identified as child sexual exploitation offenders,” said HSI Associate Deputy Assistant Director Michael Prado.

Overall, Operation Atlas resulted in 303 arrests, and the identification of 106 victims.

According to law enforcement officials in the VGT, child exploitation images proliferate on the Internet quickly and last forever, continuing the exploitation of children. Every image posted online is a picture of a crime scene. This can have lasting impacts and sometimes devastating psychological and physical effects.

The global nature of online child sexual exploitation means that no nation can effectively combat it alone. International engagement and cooperation is vital.

“Wherever you are in the world, those involved in the online sexual exploitation of children (or those who travel to offend against children), or those considering accessing, distributing or producing child sexual exploitation material should be warned: you will be detected by law enforcement. No form of online child sexual exploitation or overseas travel to sexually abuse children will be tolerated. The VGT as a collective effort is committed to taking all necessary action to protect children worldwide from any form of sexual exploitation. The VGT aims to actively contribute to the removal of children from online sexual exploitation and to identify and hold to account these perpetrators at a global level,” AFP Victim Based Crime Commander Glen McEwen said.

“Our drive is to closely work together with industry and NGOs to save as many children as possible from these horrendous crimes through efforts like Operation Atlas,” said Peter Reijnders, Chief Superintendent of the DNP’s Program for Vice, Child Sexual Abuse Images and Transnational Child Sex Offenses.

VGT officials say that people should embrace the benefits of the Internet, but also be aware of the risks.

“The online child sexual exploitation of children is a key concern for all Canadian law enforcement. These investigations are technologically complex, multi-jurisdictional in terms of offenders and victims, and often require several police agencies to work together. In Canada, we have a strong collaborative policing response that takes as its focus the investigative expertise from across several police agencies. The VGT Operation for Canada reflects the efforts of multiple Canadian law enforcement agencies, demonstrating our shared commitment to investigating these offences and illustrates some of our successes in terms of our efforts related to online child sexual exploitation.” Supt. Pierre Nezan, Officer in Charge for RCMP’s Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children/Behavioral Sciences.

“Even as a small country, it is crucial to participate in global law enforcement operations like Operation Atlas as to assume responsibility in combatting online child exploitation,” remarked Tobias Bolliger, head of the Cybercrime Coordination Unit of Switzerland.

Head of operations for the European Cybercrime Center, Fernando Ruiz Perez, commented “The success of Operation Atlas further exemplifies the reasons why the European Cybercrime Center continues to be an active participant and supporter of the Virtual Global Taskforce.”

Since its creation in 2003, the VGT has conducted numerous successful investigations around the world, including Operation Endeavor, Operation Rescue and Operation Basket. As the most recent VGT endeavor, Operation Atlas continues to demonstrate that law enforcement’s work to combat child exploitation is never finished.

Andy Brennan of the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command commented, “The NCA CEOP Command have been very keen to support the work of the VGT and other international law enforcement partners. The safeguarding and protection of children is an absolute priority. It is essential that international operations like Operation Atlas continue to arrest those involved in this type of abhorrent crime and to safeguard and protect the most vulnerable.”

“This operation highlights the level of cooperation between international law enforcement to protect our most vulnerable members of society and bring to justice those who seek to exploit and harm them,” said Rodney Drew, National Manager Criminal Investigations Group and Detective Superintendent of the New Zealand Police.

Park Hwa-Jin, Director General of the Cyber Bureau of the KNPA said, “Recognizing the gravity of online child sexual exploitation, the KNPA decided to participate in Operation Atlas for the first time this year. We are glad to contribute to international efforts in combating child exploitation, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure those who abuse children are brought to justice.”

Share with a friend

Photos

Virtual Global Taskforce

Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT)

View Slideshow

Previous news item

Colombian National Police Cases

Operation OPEN YOUR EYES During a search warrant on Nov. 12, 2014, five adults were arrested in Cucuta, Colombia for pimping minors and pornography with minors. This criminal network used [more…]

9 January 2017

INTERPOL network identifies 10,000 child sexual abuse victims

LYON, France – Ten thousand victims of child sexual abuse around the world have now been identified through INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database. The only global platform of [more…]

13 December 2016

VGT Board welcomes “NCAC” as new member

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Interior, the current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), welcomed the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC) as a new member of the VGT. [more…]

2 December 2016

VGT Announce 20 Arrests in 6 Months from Operation Globe

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) concluded its meetings in Bern, Switzerland. The meetings were chaired by Major General Dr. Nasser Lakherbani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of HH [more…]

25 November 2016

VGT Board of Management Meeting in Bern

The UAE Ministry of Interior, the current Chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), leads the VGT Board of Management meeting, to be held during 28-30 November in Bern, Switzerland. [more…]

12 June 2016

Virtual Global Taskforce Combatting Child Exploitation Online Welcomes Magnet Forensics

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Combatting Child Exploitation Online welcomed Magnet Forensics, a global leader in the acquisition, analysis and reporting of digital evidence. Their application was approved following a [more…]

8 April 2016

Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Concludes Meeting in Colombia

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) approved a project to form a work group that includes law enforcement entities affiliated to the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) members, alongside its private and [more…]

6 April 2016

The UAE Welcomes the Philippines Joining the Virtual Global Taskforce

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), welcomed the Philippines as a new member of the VGT the Global Alliance against online child [more…]

1 April 2016

VGT Continues its Efforts to Foster Child Protection

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) chaired by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will convene an official meeting in the Colombian city of Cartagena during 4-7 April 2016. The meeting will [more…]

30 December 2015

VGT Welcomes the Child Rescue Coalition

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) welcomed the Child Rescue Coalition, the newest partner to join the alliance with the aim of promoting the efforts in the ongoing fight against online [more…]

20 December 2015

VGT Welcomes Web-IQ from the Netherlands

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) welcomed the Netherlands company Web-IQ specialized in online information, into its organization to protect children against online sexual exploitation. The Web-IQ application was approved following [more…]

20 December 2015

The VGT Child Sexual Exploitation Environmental Scan 2015

Strategic priorities for the Virtual Global Task Force (VGT) Board of Management (BoM) were announced today in a report commissioned by the BoM from The Europol-European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). The [more…]

18 December 2015

UAE Welcomes ICDL GCC to VGT

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), welcomed the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) GCC as a new member of the VGT the [more…]

12 November 2015

UAE assumes chair of Virtual Global Taskforce

The United Arab Emirates assumed chair today of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), an international alliance of law enforcement and private sector agencies dedicated to combating online child sexual exploitation [more…]

12 November 2015

VGT announces over 300 arrests from Operation Atlas

Members of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) today announced the results of Operation Atlas, a global initiative to highlight investigations being conducted by VGT law enforcement members into the sharing [more…]

14 July 2015

Colombian National Police Cases

Operation OPEN YOUR EYES During a search warrant on Nov. 12, 2014, five adults were arrested in Cucuta, Colombia for pimping minors and pornography with minors. This criminal network used [more…]

15 April 2015

UAE to chair Virtual Global Taskforce

SYDNEY, Australia – The Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates was selected this week as the next chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), an international alliance of [more…]

10 March 2015

New VGT partner Kik Takes Steps to Combat Exploitation of Minors

Kik Interactive has taken two important steps towards preventing exploitation of minors in its chat app, Kik. The Waterloo-based company has become the first Canadian company to adopt Microsoft PhotoDNA [more…]

4 March 2015

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children hosts Inaugural Gala for Child Protection Thursday, May 7

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), a non-profit organization working to empower and equip the global community to protect children from sexual abuse, exploitation and abduction, will [more…]

25 February 2015

International Effort Leads to Rescue of 22-month-old Romanian Baby being molested

This weekend, special agents and investigators in the United States and European Union scrambled to rescue a 22-month-old Romanian baby after learning that she was being sexually abused. It was [more…]

17 November 2014

Two teens rescued from suspected British child sex offender

Two teenagers were rescued from a hotel room in the Philippines following an international investigation into a British man who has been charged with child sex offenses. The Philippine teenagers [more…]