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Operation Laminar, global child pornography ring, shut down by New Zealand officials

Operation Laminar, an online child pornography ring spanning 20 countries, was shut down with the help of New Zealand's internal affairs department.

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A traffic sign depicting children is pictured at the Benedictine-run Ettal Monastery is pictured in Ettal, Germany. Munich prosecutors opened an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by priests made by 20 alumni of the Benedictine-run Ettal Monastery school in Bavaria, while a lawyer involved in the case charged that hundreds of boys had been beaten, many of them severely, by staff at the school decades ago. (Miguel Villagran/AFP/Getty Images)

Operation Laminar, a child pornography ring that spanned 20 countries, was shut down after New Zealand authorities tipped off Interpol and US child protection authorities, Agence France Presse reported on Tuesday

Investigators have arrested 55 key suspects in the worldwide distribution of child sexual abuse photos via social networking sites like Facebook, and rescued at least 12 abused children, some of them babies, TV New Zealand reported

New Zealand's internal affairs investigator Maarten Quivooy said that Facebook cooperated with the operation, and that some of the perpetrators had been referred to authorities by Facebook staff working to eradicate online sexual abuse from the popular social network, according to AFP. 

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"There is no safe environment or anonymous area for individuals who think that they can trade and publish child abuse images online, as proved once again by this operation which should serve as a warning to others: You will be caught," Mick Moran, the head of Interpol's crimes against children unit said, according to TVNZ. "While disrupting these networks is a significant part of the investigation, what is more important is that innocent children, and in some cases babies, have been rescued from physical abuse."

According to New Zealand's internal affairs department, the investigation began in October 2010 after the department found images of child sexual abuse being exchanged on sites including Facebook, Socialgo and gru.ps, according to AFP.

The countries involved include the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. 

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 20 percent of all Internet pornography involves children, and an estimated 100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120522/global-child-pornography-ring-shut-down-new-zealand