Operation Cathedral

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Operation Cathedral was a police operation that broke up an international child pornography ring called The Wonderland Club operating over the Internet. It was led by the British National Crime Squad in cooperation with 13 other police forces around the globe,[1] who arrested 107 suspects (almost all simultaneously) across 12 countries on 1 September 1998. Seven UK-based men were convicted for their part in the ring in 2001.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][7][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][4][17]

One reason for the high profile of the operation was the unusually high number of images involved possessed and produced and distributed by Wonderland Club: 750,000 images with 1,200 unique identifiable faces. Despite substantial work by many of the agencies involved only a very small number of those appearing in the images have been identified. A total of 16 out of 1,263 different children depicted were identified: One from Chile, one from Argentina, 13 from either the United States or the United Kingdom, and one from Portugal. The Portuguese national was identified as Rui Pedro Teixeira Mendonça, a 11-year-old boy kidnapped in Lousada on March 4, 1998 and whose whereabouts are currently unknown.[18]

The investigation had been sparked by a tip-off from United States police investigating the rape of an eight-year-old girl broadcast live to pedophiles by webcam.[1] The international and highly organized nature of the ring has led to a much higher concern for the child sexual abuse that is child pornography.[citation needed]

Risks to relatives

Due to the lack of a proper legal framework, what has now become computer law, judges and lawyers in a few countries were unsure on how to interpret facts related to computers and the Internet. Because of the publicity the operation received, full names and addresses were almost always divulged to the media thus exposing direct relatives (wives and children) to potential danger from vigilante types among the general public. In Belgium in particular, the Police Judiciare had come under heavy criticism for the handling of the Marc Dutroux case in 1995. The efforts to restore a more positive image and the moral aspect behind the operation led officers to hold a certain disregard for relatives and even consider them as potential accomplices.

Members of The Wonderland Club

Ian Baldock - 31 year of computer consultant. Linked between the ring of The Wonderland Club.

David Hines - 30, member of the club who went public.

Gavin Seagers - 29, nicknamed "Hopeful". A computer consultant who had critical access to children.

Antoni Skinner - 36, a computer consultant. Skinner had a method of encryption that where officers could only find 390 images.

Andrew Barlow - 25, computer consultant. Confused the police.

Frederick Stephens - 46, taxi driver.

Ahmed Ali - 31, taxi driver.

Gary Salt - taxi driver. former engineer and chairman of the club.

Stephen Ellis - 40, computer salesman.

[19] [20]


  1. ^ a b "Paedophiles' vast 'lending library'". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  2. ^ *Child porn gang face jail
  3. ^ "BBC News - UK - Wickedness of Wonderland". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Members of international paedophile ring to be sentenced - UK news - The Observer". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Internet paedophiles are jailed". Mail Online. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "CNN.com - How police smashed child porn club - February 13, 2001". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "BBC News - UK - Tackling online child pornography". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Sean O'Neill (14 February 2001). "Girl, 8, raped to order on the internet". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Neal Keeling. "Pervert who ran infamous 'wonderland' child porn network caught looking at sick images in Old Trafford library". men. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Wonderland club with a sick agenda". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Net paedophiles and the malice of Wonderland". Independent.ie. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Cops Go Undercover Online to Nab Internet Pedophiles". SFGate. 7 December 1998. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "BBC News - UK - Net porn trader denies abuse". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "CNN.com - Child porn gang face jail - February 13, 2001". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "BBC News - PM - Child pornographers sentenced". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Wonderland sentences a 'joke'". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "CNN.com - How police smashed child porn club - February 13, 2001". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  18. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1336247/Internet-child-sex-perverts-escape-justice.html
  19. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1167879.stm
  20. ^ https://theukdatabase.com/2012/03/14/2723/

External links

The bust

  • International team of police raids 'club' (U.S.)
  • Wickedness of Wonderland (UK)
  • Main Street Monsters (U.S.)

The follow-up

  • Renewed hunt for Wonderland victims
  • US Senator McCain uses Wonderland to argue for an internet filtering amendment
  • Wonderland sentences a 'joke'
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