Undercover police arrest 58 digital sex offenders

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Undercover police arrest 58 digital sex offenders

Undercover police officers, within a month, arrested 58 digital sex offenders who targeted minors as the country cracks down on digital sex crimes against minors.

“We arrested a total of 58 digital sex offenders involved in 35 cases, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 27,” the National Police Agency stated on Wednesday.
The string of arrests follows an amendment under the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse Act, which allows the police to conduct undercover investigations into digital sex crimes against minors. The amendment came into effect Sept. 24.
The types of crime caught by the undercover police included the sale and distribution of pornographic content, production of pornographic content, conversing with minors for the purpose of creating pornographic content and owning or viewing pornographic content.
Conversing with the intent to involve a minor in pornographic content is a newly labeled crime to punish sex predators who attempt to befriend adolescents and then sexually abuse them, otherwise known as online grooming.
The police said that they uncovered 32 of the cases using anonymous identities and 3 cases with disguised identities.
To carry out an investigation anonymously, police officers only need to obtain approval from a supervisor.
The officers in this case would approach the criminals without revealing their identity and pretend to be interested in purchasing pornographic content.
In order to conduct an undercover probe with a disguised identity, police officers need to obtain approval from a court.
Officers can then use their fake identities to go as far as to advertise or sell pornographic content to catch sex criminals in the act.
The police refrained from giving further details about their undercover arrests as to conceal their techniques from criminals.
The National Police Agency also announced plans to create a special task force for undercover investigations in the agency’s Cyber Bureau, in order to further expand their undercover probes.
The task force will be responsible for approving anonymous undercover investigations and protecting the victims.
“As the police are actively arresting digital sex criminals, we urge potential criminals to think twice before going through with a crime of this sort,” said an official from the National Police Agency.
The amendment to tackle the sexual exploitation of minors came after last year’s notorious arrest of Cho Ju-bin, the leader of a massive online pornography ring that sexually abused minors.
As Korea's technology has rapidly advanced, its digital sex crimes have also mushroomed.
According to Gender Ministry data, the number of people under the age of 19 who have fallen victim to sex predators rose from 111 in 2018 to 1,268 this year.

BY LEE JIAN, WI MUN-HEE [lee.jian@joongang.co.kr]
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