Spain quashes child-porn ring

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The Independent Online
Spanish police, helped by the US Justice Department, say they have dismantled Europe's biggest distribution ring of child pornography on the Internet. Police raids on the homes of two telecommunications students near Barcelona sparked furious demands yesterday for a crackdown on child pornography, which is not a crime in Spain.

The two computer wizards, aged 20 and 21, are accused of making a fortune by trafficking "horrific" pornographic images of children as young as three throughout the world, police said.

Police confiscated videotapes, contact lists and 4,000 computer files of "naked children aged three or four engaged in every kind of sexual act, with other minors or with adults", the biggest such haul in Europe. Police said the images themselves had been filmed in northern and eastern European countries. More detentions are expected.

The two Catalans had apparently accumulated their pornographic archive in Vic, near Barcelona, by exchanging or buying images through the Internet, using stolen passwords.

The police raid, the climax of four months of investigation - following a tip-off by special agents of the US Treasury Department - prompted shrill demands yesterday for stricter regulation of the Internet and stiffer penalties for child pornography.

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