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39 Suspects Identified in Major Online Child Sexual Abuse Swoop in the Western Balkan Region

Operation MOZAIK 2023 was led by the Slovenian National Police and coordinated by Europol in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT). It aimed to identify and arrest people using online forums and messaging applications to share and distribute child sexual abuse material. The Western Balkan countries –Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary carried out a series of enforcement actions between 6 to 17 November.

Police conducted 41 raids across the participating countries, following investigations into the sharing of images and videos depicting child sexual abuse. As a result, 3 suspects were already arrested or charged with crimes relating to the distribution of child abuse images.

During the actions, more than 200 items containing images or videos of child sexual abuse were seized, including computers, mobile phones, computer servers and memory cards.

Europol facilitated the information exchange between all the countries involved, and further enhanced the operational picture in the region by cross-checking the seized data and providing intelligence packages to continue the investigative work in this region and beyond.

A priority region

In the framework of EMPACT, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre have teamed up to establish an expert network in the Western Balkans with the goal to strengthen cross-border cooperation in the fight against child sexual abuse.

Europol’s ‘Say No!’ prevention campaign has been made available to all the countries in the Western Balkan region in their own national language.  

This campaign includes a 10-minute long video which portrays two teenagers, a boy and a girl, being exploited online by a criminal organisation for financial gain and by an individual online sexual offender seeking further sexual material, respectively. The video includes advice as to how such crimes may be reported to law enforcement and how to avoid falling victim in the first place.

This video has been shared with parents, children and teachers to raise awareness in the Western Balkans about child sexual abuse.

The video is now available in the languages of the following 29 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Source : Europol