International police action leads to rescue of 22-month old Romanian sex abuse victim

25 February 2015
Press Release
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Swift international police cooperation has led to the arrest of a Romanian man suspected of sexually-abusing his own two-year-old daughter, filming the abuse and posting the child abuse material (CAM) online. Romanian law enforcement authorities have rescued the child.

The case began when the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a report of suspected online child sexual abuse, submitted via their CyberTipline1. These reports are continuously triaged to help ensure children in imminent danger get first priority. Analysts at the NCMEC reviewed the report, examining and evaluating the content and, after adding appropriate information for potential law enforcement use, the NCMEC sent the information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Liaison Office at Europol in The Hague. HSI special agents coordinated with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), who immediately launched an investigation. EC3 cross-checked and analysed all the data, and produced an intelligence package for the Romanian authorities.

Romanian law enforcement authorities specialised in combating organised crime, and prosecutors from Sibiu County, were rapidly involved. The lack of harmonised legislation on data retention presented some issues in the initial stages of the operation however, the suspected abuser, his victim and their location were soon identified. On 24 February 2015, Romanian law enforcement officers arrested the suspect and searched his home. Evidence found at the home matched the self-produced child abuse material that the perpetrator had posted online. The victim – the suspect's own daughter – was safeguarded.

Europol's Deputy Director Operations, Wil van Gemert says: "This serves as an example of how fast and effective international police cooperation can lead to the arrest of child sex offenders and rescue of the child victims, which continues to be a very high priority for Europol and its partners worldwide. We will continue our efforts to fight this horrific crime and to ensure a safe environment for children all around the world."

"This case illustrates HSI’s unyielding commitment in working with our world-wide law enforcement partners to protect our children," said Peter T. Edge, HSI executive associate director. "When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we will leave no stone unturned."

The case was supported by Europol's (EC3), Romanian law enforcement authorities including the Romanian Intelligence Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

This operation is a direct result of the information flow process Europol initiated in 2014 in cooperation with US ICE, aiming to disseminate NCMEC reports on child sexual exploitation to the EU Member States. Europol implemented this initiative in the framework of the EMPACT priority 'Cybercrime – Child Sexual Exploitation Online' and currently involves: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Sweden, plus Norway.

1 The CyberTipline is operated in partnership with the United States FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Postal Inspection Service, Secret Service, military criminal investigative organisations, Department of Justice, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, as well as other state and local law enforcement agencies. Reports to the CyberTipline are made by the public and Electronic Service Providers. ESPs are required by law to report apparent child pornography to law enforcement via the CyberTipline.

For further information, please contact:

Lisanne Kosters, Europol Corporate Communications, +31 70 302 5001