Cross Border CrimeHuman Trafficking

44 arrested in Poland in a sting targeting online child sexual exploitation

The Polish Central Cybercrime Bureau (Centralne Biuro Zwalczania Cyberprzestępczości), supported by Europol, targeted child sexual abuse through the setting-up of a special team of police officers in August. The officers, who are experienced in investigating perpetrators involved in the distribution of child sexual abuse material, carried out extensive analytical and operational activities to identify offenders and gather evidence material. The investigations involved other Polish authorities, as well as Europol, the private sector and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

At the end of October, Polish police officers carried out 82 searches across the country and arrested 44 suspects aged between 18 and 66. The preliminary analysis and the searches led to the identification of 15 500 files of both video and photographic material depicting the sexual abuse of children, and to the seizure of 350 large-capacity digital storage units. Some of the images saved on the seized storage items depicted the sexual abuse of infants and toddlers. As some of the files were encrypted, they will be subjected to further examination once decrypted. The leads gathered during the operational actions have fed further investigations that are still in progress.

Among the arrested is an individual suspected of sexual abuse of two children aged four and five, as well as a second individual who has already served a five-and-a-half-year sentence for sexually abusing minors. The operational activities also led to the possible prevention of the victimisation of a child. During the search of a suspect’s house, the officers uncovered correspondence with a 10-year-old boy, which suggests that the adult had obtained the trust of the child for the purpose of his subsequent sexual exploitation. An investigation into a further similar case is now ongoing.  

For several years, Europol has served as a destination for NCMEC reports targeting online suspects in various EU Member States, including Poland. Every NCMEC report is stored and cross-checked against Europol data and eventually disseminated to the respective country. Europol supported the Polish operation by providing analytical, victim identification and open-source support, and by facilitating exchanges of information