Europol has supported the Spanish National Police on Operation Sky, a complex investigation targeting the distribution of child sexual exploitation material through darknet platforms and Skype.
The investigation led by the Spanish National Police’s High-Tech Crime Unit began in mid-2017 and focused at first on the TOR network. Prompted by clear evidence of the prolific sharing of indecent images, the Spanish investigators uncovered links diverting users to a private group accessible by invitation only on Skype.
At this point in the operation, there have been eight arrests in Europe (France, Hungary, Italy, Spain) and Canada. Investigations are ongoing with law enforcement agencies to bring all the suspects to justice.
The group members from 14 different countries were actively exchanging child sexual abuse and exploitation material. Operation SKY aimed at clearly identifying, charging and prosecuting them for encouraging child sexual exploitation and abuse through their activities. The investigators monitored the activity online using innovative operational resources in this complex case. They also dealt with the demands of different legal frameworks in a worldwide investigation. The house searches and arrests followed shortly after.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (JCAT), a group of dedicated cyber-liaison officers from different countries who work together in a trusted environment within Europol, have supported Operation SKY from the outset in the coordination of roles, tasks, meetings and through intelligence analysis and the facilitation of the secure information exchange.