OSLO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Norwegian police have identified 51 men, including politicians, a jurist, and a preschool teacher, who are involved in massive pedophile networks that promoted the sexual abuse of children, local media reported on Monday.
Norwegian police have worked on "Operation Dark Room" since September 2015 in one of the biggest child abuse cases in the country's history, according to newspaper Aftenposten.
All of the 51 people identified as culprits are men, with 20 of them having been arrested in the Western Police District based in Bergen. Out of the 16 people held in custody in the district, two of them have already been convicted.
Police have seized 150 terabytes of data. The names of additional 31 Norwegians involved have been found in other police districts.
"In at least one of these cases, the culprit has admitted sexual assault against his own child," Hilde Reikeras, chief inspector of the division of violence and sexual crimes in the Western Police District, said at the press conference late Sunday afternoon.
In the Western Police District alone, 20 victims have been identified and only one of the cases concerns abuse that happened abroad. One important arrest happened on Friday. The police emphasized that the case involved "children of all ages."
"We have identified around 20 victims in our police district. Most of them are children in Norway with the material that was self-produced," police lawyer Janne Ringset Heltne said, adding there was one case that was about streaming of assault from the Philippines.
According to Aftenposten, Operation Dark Room started when a mother of a 14-year-old girl heard what her daughter might have been exposed to and contacted the police.
"In September 2015 there was an inquiry about a 22-year-old man being reported for sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl. The person was arrested. The seizures in the case showed serious assaults against children," said Reikeras. The police has further found out that there had been more people in contact with the 22-year-old via the so-called Dark Web.
Police later identified more than 5,000 user accounts in various chat channels.
"We see that there is chatting and description of sexual assaults. The investigation has shown that some of these are fantasies, but some of them are real assaults that have actually happened," Heltne said.
Deputy police chief Gunnar Floystad called the operation Norway's biggest case of sexual assault against children and emphasized that it was "nowhere near finished yet."
"It is a big, complex case that we have worked on for a long time. The investigation is absolutely not finished. We will take one person into custody tomorrow (on Monday) and must keep our cards close," Floystad said at the press conference.
Police said the culprits came from all walks of life, and many of them have a high level of education and good IT expertise. A jurist, a preschool teacher, engineers, and students are involved. According to the national broadcaster NRK, there have also been two politicians involved in the case.
Police revealed that 25 people had been working on the case, with additional help from the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos), as the investigation had spread beyond Hordaland county in western Norway.
Several of the arrested admitted their involvement after police had shown them the evidence.
"We are shocked and surprised by the number of people that have dealt with this on the internet," Heltne said.
According to Aftenposten, several children were taken from their parents after the police had begun the work on the case.
"Many of the cases include the families where the child protection service has already been involved. I cannot say more about the assaulted," Heltne said.
According to NRK, the charges include sexual intercourse and the rape of children under 14 years, complicity in sexual intercourse with children under 14 years, serious human trafficking, sexual intercourse with children between 14 and 16 years, and production, storage, and sharing of material showing the sexual abuse of children.
A large number of cases involved manipulating children to send nude pictures and perform sexual acts on themselves, NRK said.
Currently, the maximum penalty for these charges is imprisonment for up to 15 years.
Police said some children met the perpetrators on the Internet and were given compliments, something that the children, as they themselves claimed, were not used to.
Police also confirmed that in some cases, children had agreed to meet the perpetrators, the NRK reported.