On December 9, the Federal Police (Polícia Federal) executed eight search warrants throughout the São Paulo, Mogi das Cruzes, and Osasco regions. The search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation into pedophiles in the country. Specifically, those who used the darknet for spreading such material. The police just announced that one raid resulted in the capture of a suspected offender. Brazilian Federal Police, on the day officers executed the attacks, simultaneously launched Operation Catchnet.
Like many police forces worldwide, the Brazilian Federal Police rapidly learned that the darknet was not only an online drugstore—it also functioned as an outlet for firearm trade and child abuse media. Operation Catchnet, like the FBI’s controversial Operation Pacifier and the Norwegian’s widely successful Operation Darkroom, aims to put a stop to darknet CP. The taskforce developed the initiative and subsequent groundwork following Norway’s investigations. Norwegian authorities expressed in an interview with NRK that Operation Darkroom ran its course. Authorities arrested dozens of suspects, received additional funding to fight darknet crime, and identified 5,000 another suspects worldwide.
Other CP busts that pre-dated Operation Catchnet:
We covered the police’s concern when one of the most disturbing viewers of the CP seemingly vanished in Sweden. They were unsure whether his tales were true, and if they were, they had no idea where to find the person who operated the account. Darknet pedophiles concern law enforcement officials across the globe. Darknet marketplace buyers quickly learned not to purchase firearms from Germany, or on the darknet at all, for that matter—Germany cracked down on darknet weapon trade and counterfeit euros, seemingly leaving CP behind.
Brazil joined the ranks of the countries with official taskforces dedicated to hunting the internet for these types of people. Australia’s Taskforce Argos deserves a notable mention for the takedown of “Britain’s worst pedophile ever.” Moreover, a similar team recently took down a CP ring in China that consisted of 100 or more members.
The Operation Catchnet Results:
The Federal Police seized computers, hard drives, cell phones, and general storage devices during the raids. Forensic analysts, according to the press release, received the electronic and started decrypting the media that needed decryption. Officers, shortly after the raid, discovered that not every electronic device required decryption. While executing a search warrant in the municipality of Osasco, officers arrested a 54-year-old suspect. Police stopped him and located two HDDs and two USB drives in his car. His cell phone, the officers discovered, was one of the devices that did not require decryption. The now-prisoner used a social media application to receive illegal material from the children themselves. The phone contained CP as well.
Investigators knew that the suspects used the darknet to store and share the media amongst other likeminded individuals. Moreover, the investigators also knew that social media applications—notably WhatsApp and Kiwi—were used to obtain the images and videos.
The Federal Police charged the man with Art. 241B of the Child and Adolescent Statute. A charge that carries a mandatory one to four-year prison sentence.