Eleven people have been arrested on suspicion of severely abusing at least three boys after police broke up a child pornography ring that peddled “unfathomable images” over the internet in Germany.
Close relatives of the boys, ages 5, 10, and 12 including one set of parents and an uncle were among those arrested, the police said at a press conference.
Investigators identified the suspects from videos recovered from professionally encrypted hard drives that they seized and are still working to unlock, the authorities said.
Joachim Poll, who headed the investigation for the Münster police said that the recovered footage showed shocking abuse over “several hours” of the two younger boys by four men.
“You can’t imagine it. These men, if you can call them that, acted maliciously by encrypting all their discussions on their cell phones.”
He also disclosed that the main suspect in the case, a 27-year-old information technology technician from Münster encrypted more than 500 terabytes of child pornography.
“All of the hard drives are highly professionally encrypted,” he said. “They are so well done that we have not yet been able to access all of them.”
Police said the suspect had equipped a specially cooled room in his basement with seven servers holding the images on encrypted hard drives.
They believe many of the images were filmed in a cabin fitted with surveillance cameras inside and out, on a countryside property owned by the main suspect’s mother.
That woman was also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting the abuse, Mr. Poll said.
The parents of the 5-year-old and the uncle of the 12-year-old were also among those arrested.