Six men have been arrested in County Durham in an investigation into the distribution of child abuse images.
Operation Mazarin involved Durham Constabulary’s e-safety unit, the National Crime Agency and the regional crime unit, NERSOU (North East Region Special Operations Unit), with information was also supplied via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
Three men – aged 21, 56 and 64 – were arrested yesterday morning after search warrants were executed at two addresses in Newton Aycliffe and a house in the Belmont area of Durham City.
This morning, three men aged 45, 24 and 48, were arrested after police carried out further searches at properties in Bowburn, Esh Winning, and the Seaham area.
Durham Constabulary said all six men were detained on suspicion of the possession and distribution of indecent images. The three men arrested yesterday have been released on police bail while enquiries continue. The men arrested today are in custody at various police stations awaiting interview.
Laptops, hard drives and other computer-related equipment were seized along with mobile phones from the various properties and will now be examined by specialists from Durham’s e-safety unit.
Det Sgt Steve Days from the e-safety unit, said: "This operation has been planned over a number of weeks and has been based on intelligence from a number of sources. Our actions have concentrated on identifying people we suspect of being involved in the distribution of both still and moving images of child abuse.
"Durham Constabulary will not tolerate this type of activity and will use every investigative means and technology to trace and arrest those involved in this type of offence. Our investigations are vital for the safeguarding of children."