Authorities in Germany managed to take down one of the world’s biggest child sex abuse platforms following a large-scale investigation which led to several arrests in mid-April, a police statement confirmed on Monday.
The platform “Boystown” was active since at least June 2019 and had a membership of over 400,000. It was only accessible via the so-called darknet.
Four German citizens between the ages of 40 and 64 were detained in relation to the case, three on suspicion of working as administrators for the platform — one of whom was arrested in Paraguay. Another man was taken in under suspicion of being a registered member and the platform’s most active user, having contributed more than 3,500 posts.
The investigation spanned months and was led by a German task force working in coordination with Europol, as well as authorities from the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, the United States and Canada.
The platform provided a space for users to share recordings of abuse of minors including “of the most serious sexual abuse of young children,” the statement from the Germany’s federal investigative police force (the BKA) said.
The platform included several communication channels for users. The members also received advice from platform administrators for how to access the site in the most secure way and how best to avoid detection and subsequent criminal charges.
The accused were arrested after police searched their homes. The three men in Germany were arrested and taken to Frankfurt am Main on April 14 and 15 for questioning. The fourth man, who was one of the three site administrators and was arrested in Paraguay, is expected to be extradited to Germany.
The raids were carried out across Germany. Another of the administrators, a 40-year-old man, was arrested in the town of Paderborn in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, while the third administrator, 49, was arrested near the southern city of Munich.
The fourth man, 64, who was suspected of being the site’s most prolific user, was detained in Hamburg.
Police were able to close down “Boystown” and several other chat platforms following the raids.