“We will continue to extend our full support to Operation Koala and other similar investigations that help bring those who sexually abuse children to justice.”
The identification of this online group resulted from Operation "Joint Hammer," the U.S. component of "Operation Koala," an ongoing global operation targeting transnational rings of child pornographers that was initiated by Europol and Eurojust, and involved 28 countries.
What started as a tip from Australian authorities in 2006 regarding a sexually explicit video has turned into one of the largest global child pornography investigations on record—and a model for how law enforcement cooperation can cast a powerful light into the darkest reaches of the Internet to bring child predators to justice.
Operation Joint Hammer has resulted in the rescue of 14 girls—some as young as 3 years old—who were being sexually abused by pornographers. Approximately 170 people have been arrested, more than 60 of them U.S. citizens. Seven major child pornography rings, hosting the worst of the worst, have been dismantled. And the investigation is far from complete.
Working with international law enforcement organizations, members of our Innocent Images National Initiative program are playing a key role in the operation, along with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Here is what happened: Authorities in Queensland, Australia came across a pornographic video online showing a young victim. This victim was determined to be Dutch with a Flemish accent. Authorities in Belgium were contacted, and the ensuing European investigation became known as Operation Koala