Raids uncover 70,000 images of child sex abuse on one man's computers in Ireland

Raids uncover 70,000 images of child sex abuse on one man's computers in Ireland

GARDAÍ recovered 70,000 images of child sexual abuse on devices recovered from one man, it has emerged. 

The man was one of 31 suspects targeted in a series of raids over recent days, according to The Irish Times. 

It's understood a series of 30 homes in 12 counties across Ireland were raided by gardaí in a crackdown on child abuse images.

An Garda Síochána carried out the searches as part of an investigation into the possession and distribution of child abuse images.

The raids under Operation Ketch were carried out over the past three days since Saturday in 12 counties including Dublin, Meath, Wicklow, Kerry, Wexford, Kildare, Westmeath, Limerick, Laois and Waterford. Searches were also carried out in a location in the Carlow-Kilkenny Garda division.

Operation Ketch was set up to target people suspected of possessing and distributing child exploitation images.

In the raids, computers, phones and other equipment were seized.

According to the paper, the images seized include photographs and videos, and most of those targeted were not known to the Garda before the operation began.

While the examination of the computers and other devices seized will take some time, Garda sources said in the region of 150,000 images had been uncovered.

Now, investigating officers are trying to determine whether any of the children in the images are Irish.

A small number of suspects admitted their guilt immediately after gardaí arrived to search their homes, but arrests are expected within the next two weeks.

Garda sources told the paper there had been no arrests during the raids as data devices needed to be seized from suspects first and then analysed.

It was only when detectives found criminal images, and learned the extent and nature of the illegal material in the possession of each suspect, that arrests and criminal charges would follow.

"The properties are flagged but we have to establish what person in that property is involved; there may be a lot of people living there and using the internet," one source said.

The series of co-ordinated raids – codenamed Operation Ketch – used intelligence supplied from abroad, mainly by law-enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States, including the FBI’s online child exploitation unit.

Internet protocol, or IP, addresses are flagged as having been used to download and share images of child sexual abuse.

Each IP address is linked to a physical address.