German prosecutors said Thursday they had shut down a major platform for organizing the sexual abuse of children, arresting its suspected administrator and others in Germany and abroad.
The site, known as 'Elysium,' "was used for global exchanges of child pornography by its members and to arrange meetings to sexually abuse children," prosecutors in the western city of Frankfurt said in a statement.
Its 87,000 members traded images and video files of "the most serious sexual abuse of children, including babies, and representations of sexual violence against children," the statement continued.
After months of investigation, authorities arrested a 39-year-old man from the Limburg-Weilburg district north of Frankfurt in mid-June, and are questioning him in custody.
"The suspect is believed to have been largely responsible for the creation of the technical infrastructure of the platform as its administrator," prosecutors said, adding that they had found the server used to store the site's data on the the so-called darknet during a search of his flat.
Darknet sites like the one uncovered in the case are invisible to most internet users and can only be accessed by using encryption technology. They have repeatedly been used by criminals to trade drugs and weapons.
Investigators shut down the Darknet website called Elysium, which “was used for global exchanges of child pornography by its members and to arrange meetings to sexually abuse children,” according to a statement by prosecutors in the western city of Frankfurt.
Police raided premises and arrested an “administrator” and seized hard drives and computers being used to run the site and hold members personal data.
Further arrests have been made globally following the initial raid, in a joint effort between international law enforcement agencies. Among them are people accused of serious sexual abuse of children, the statement said.