Operation Rescue

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Operation Rescue was an international investigation started by the UK-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and later taken over by Europol. It started in 2007, and concluded in 2011 with 184 arrests. The operation caused the shutdown of BoyLover.net in November 2009.

History

In 2007, The UK-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) started investigating BoyLover.net, and later that year infiltrated the website, in an operation which would become Operation Rescue in 2009 when it joined forces with Europol, Australia, US authorities, and various other countries. In 2008, the Australian Federal Police's new unit Child Protection Operations (CPO) began to take note of BoyLover.net after an investigation into two child sex tourists started to involve the website. Intelligence gathering on BoyLover.net quickly became a secondary focus, and soon Operation Caledon shifted focus. Initially, Operation Caledon was named Action Hercules.[1][2] Later in 2008 the AFP began to suggest a cooperative effort in investigating BoyLover.net.[3]

In February 2008, CEOP handed Thai authorities information on a potential child sex offences occuring in the country being committed by British citizens. This information was later used by Thai authorities in Operation Naga to arrest four men.[4]

Somewhere in 2008 or 2009, British authorities were able to take over the account of BLN British administrator. This gave them almost complete access to the site, allowing them to see all the information members entered into their profiles (including birth date, occupation, location, and more).[4]

In 2009, two senior BLN members were arrested by AFP, and three months later US authorities were informed that Joseph Gittings (later identified as Joecool4218) was an administrator to BLN.[5]

On November 24, 2009, a raid was conducted by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the home of Gittings, arresting him for child pornography possession and distribution, and also arrested his boyfriend on separate charges. A day later, November 25, Dale Hodges was raided and arrested at his home on further child pornography charges, and Amir Ish-Hurwitz (LostBoy) was raided in his Netherlands home while Dutch authorities elsewhere seized the server for BLN resulting in the site's permanent closure. At the time of being closed, the site had over 70,000 members.[4][5] On the same day, Loren was raided and his site BoyZoom was closed to ensure members were safe.[6] On December 1, BoyZoom permanently shut down in fear of being closed down.[7]

The seizure and arrests were quick to spread amongst boylovers, with the first thread on BoyChat gaining many replies in the few days after being posted and numerous other threads appearing throughout the following few months.[8] Through the next two years, details of the trials for Gittings and Hodges were sporadically posted by anonymous posters and occasionally on request.[9][10]

Following the conviction of Hurwitz after his trial, Europol held a press conference and released details of Operation Rescue.[4] In total, at the time of the conference, 184 people had been arrested and 670 members suspected of committing criminal offences, despite claims from an Australian newspaper alleging over 200 arrests.[11][12] 121 memberes were British, and 31 were Australian.[4][12] A total of 4202 intelligence reports had been created on members of the deceased site and distributed to 33 different countries worldwide.[13]

Despite rumours that administration members may have used the BLN server to exchange child pornography, the Dutch Justice Ministry stated that the BLN server was clean.[14]

References


See also