Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has supported Italian law enforcement authorities to shut down a hidden service for distributing child sexual abuse material. The house of the Italian administrator has been searched and 14 000 bitcoin wallets have been seized.
Operation Babylon began two years ago when the Italian Postal and Communications Police uncovered a hidden service within the Darknet that was facilitating the exchange of child sexual abuse material. It was also servicing crime by hosting sellers of illegal commodities such as weapons, passport and identity documents, counterfeit and cloned credit cards, hacking services, and close to 210 sellers of drugs. The marketplace administrator earned a percentage from all of these transactions.
Italian State Police, supported by Europol’s EC3 and undercover agents from Italy’s National Centre for the Fight against Child Pornography Online (CNCPO), subsequently began an investigation to close in on the identified anonymised hidden service. Investigators discovered thousands of images online of young victims being abused, which were being exchanged by paedophiles in many hidden online locations on the Darknet. The investigation continued with the seizure of this illegal content.
Europol’s EC3 provided support and coordination during the operation, the exchange and sharing of vital information and intelligence, and on-the-spot technical support in Campania, Italy, on 29 July 2015.