MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Police this week busted up an international online pedophile ring that posted video of children being abused to a massive global audience over the Internet. Thirty-one children, including some as young as two months old, were rescued from homes in Britain and elsewhere. Police are investigating 700 suspects who participated in the global chatroom. British officers working with detectives from 35 other countries were able to infiltrate the operation after identifying the ringleader, a 27-year-old British man named Timothy David Martin Cox.
Sandra Laville is a crime correspondent for the Guardian newspaper. She's been covering this story, and she joins us now from London. Welcome, Sandra.
Ms. SANDRA LAVILLE (Crime correspondent, Guardian Newspaper): Hello.
NORRIS: And so, how large was this ring? How many countries did it reach? And where were most of the members based?
Ms. LAVILLE: Well, it reached 35 countries in all, but most of the members seemed to have been based in America, the U.K., Australia and Canada.
NORRIS: What more can you tell us about those children, the 31 children that were rescued in this operation?
Ms. LAVILLE: Well, at least 15 of them, if not more, were rescued from homes in the U.K. Others were rescued from America and Canada. The age, as you say, from two months up to teenagers, girls and boys. And I would think it's not clear, the police are very careful about this, but a lot of them would have been children or stepchildren of the abusers. And, therefore, would have been taken from the family home to be rescued.
NORRIS: Sandra, how did police bust up this ring?
Ms. LAVILLE: Well, police were given a tip-off by the Canadian authorities who had identified a Canadian chatroom host. That led them to an American, Raymond Weller, who called himself God. And when Weller was arrested in March 2006 by the Canadian police working with the Americans, his chatroom was shut down. But some months later, Canadian police realized that the chatroom was up and running again under the host name of a man called Son of God, and he was based in Britain.
So they contacted the British specialist police, and they spent some weeks trying to identify who this man, known as the Son of God, was. And they eventually traced him to a farmhouse in a very rural area in Britain, in Suffolk, and found him there in his bedroom with his computer running this operation.
NORRIS: And we talked about the videos. He also had a large number of photographs on this computer.
Ms. LAVILLE: He had more than 75,000 images, indecent and explicit images of children. And, in addition, he had more than 300 movies of children.
NORRIS: The police, the British police who were investigating this organization expressed a fair amount of shock at what they saw, and also the way this operation ran, that members around the world were able to see the worst kinds of abuse in real-time, live on the Web.
Ms. LAVILLE: Yes. They did express shock. I mean, it has happened before, but not on this scale, I think. And the police were shocked particularly at the phenomenon that members would ask for a certain act to be carried out on a child. And other members would then go away, do it, film it and put it on the chatroom live.
NORRIS: What kind of charges does Timothy David Martin Cox face?
Ms. LAVILLE: He faces seven charges of procuring and spreading pedophile images on the Internet. He was given an indeterminate jail sentence yesterday, which means the judge will release him when he feels it is in the public safety to release him.
NORRIS: Sandra Laville, thank you so much for the talking to us.
Ms. LAVILLE: Thank you.
NORRIS: Sandra Laville is a crime correspondent for the Guardian newspaper. She spoke to us from London.