LONDON — Around 30 million images of child abuse have been recovered as part of a crackdown by police in Scotland, officials announced Friday.
The six-week operation between June and July identified some 500 victims or "potential victims" aged between 3 and 18, and resulted in 77 people being charged, Police Scotland said in a statement.
The suspects face a total of more than 390 charges between them. These include rape, sharing indecent images of children, grooming for sexual purposes, sexual extortion, indecent communication with children, possession of a firearm, bestiality, and drugs offences.
The investigation — named operation LATTISE — involved cops scouring more than 100,000 chat-room logs.
"Online child sexual abuse is a national threat," Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said in the statement. "The reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers."
Police did not release the nationalities of the suspects or victims.
"Online child sexual abuse is not a victimless crime," Graham added. "Children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being sexually abused and exploited now in Scotland and when an image or video clip is shared or viewed, they are being re-victimized."