The main suspect was arrested while sitting in front of his computer (icon image)
Photo: Silas Stein / dpa
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has identified and arrested several suspected operators of abusive sites on the dark web.
Those arrested are said to be behind the "BoyVids 6.0" and "Forbidden Love" forums.
Videos and photos of some of the most severe sexualized violence against children were distributed via the two sides, as reported by the West German Broadcasting Corporation (WDR) and the North German Broadcasting Corporation (NDR).
With 410,000 and 846,000 registered user accounts, these are two of the largest abuse platforms on the dark web.
The sites have since been shut down.
The main administrator of the two forums is said to be a 21-year-old from Saxony.
According to SPIEGEL information, the investigators managed to arrest him on November 29 while he was sitting at the computer.
In the case of cybercrime attacks, it is of great importance for the police to arrest suspects when they are sitting at their computer and logged on.
In this way, the officials ensure that the computer hard drive is unencrypted and can be evaluated, and that they may also gain insight into online accounts on potentially illegal platforms.
More arrests were made about two weeks later.
According to NDR and WDR, a 44-year-old from Lower Saxony, a 45-year-old from Schleswig-Holstein and another suspect were arrested in Brazil.
Abuse recordings apparently still available
According to the two broadcasters, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is investigating the platforms on behalf of the Attorney General in Frankfurt am Main and the central office there for combating cybercrime.
The investigators would accuse those arrested of gang-like distribution of material with sexual abuse of children.
According to Tagesschau.de, copies of the abuse recordings that were distributed on "BoyVids 6.0" are already circulating on the dark web again.
According to this, the authorities are said to have apparently not initiated the systematic deletion of the videos and photos, although the recordings are often stored with storage services on the normal web and not on the Darknet.
These services are usually quick to delete when they are made aware that there are child rape footage on their servers.
This was shown by joint research by SPIEGEL and NDR last year.