A global investigation launched following the conviction of a Cambridge academic for appalling paedophile offences, has resulted in the arrest of more than 300 dark web child abusers.
The suspects were detained in 38 countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, the United States and Saudi Arabia after investigators identified a website hosting a quarter of a million horrific videos.
The probe came in the wake of the conviction last year of Dr Matthew Falder, 29, who was jailed for 32-years for conducting a campaign of appalling web based abuse against a string of vulnerable victims.
Falder, who had a masters and a PhD from Cambridge University, admitted blackmailing scores of men, women and children into carrying out humiliating and degrading acts, which included encouraging the rape of a child.
Labelled as 'hurtcore', Falder duped his targets into sending naked images of themselves and then blackmailed them into carrying out a series of depraved activities across the web.
Falder, who worked as an academic at Birmingham University, contacted more than 300 potential victims, but by operating on the dark web, he managed to evade capture for eight years.
Following his capture an international taskforce began investigating the dark web platform he had been using and on Wednesday announced that a total of 337 suspects had been arrested in 38 countries.
The Welcome To Video site, which was run from South Korea – contained more than 250,000 horrific videos and users had made more than one million downloads, with some paedophiles using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency to pay for the abuse images.
In the UK seven men have already been convicted in connection with the network with one man jailed for 22 years for raping a five-year-old boy and appearing on Welcome To Video sexually abusing a three-year-old girl.
British investigators travelled to South Korea to help track down Jong Woo Son, the 23-year-old who was allegedly running the site.
Yesterday Mr Son was charged with nine counts in the United States relating to him running the website.
He has already been convicted and jailed in his home country.
Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations, said: “Dark web child sex offenders – some of whom are the very worst offenders – cannot hide from law enforcement.
“They’re not as cloaked as they think they are, they’re not as safe as they think they are.
“The NCA is relentless in pursuing them and we have specialist capabilities, which we use for all UK law enforcement, to unmask them and help take down sites like Welcome To Video.
“I’m immensely proud of the role we played in catching some very depraved and dangerous global offenders and for beginning the work that eventually caught Jong Woo Son.”