Police in Cologne in Germany announced on Wednesday that they had identified, after two years of investigation, more than 400 suspected members of a pedophile network that has raged across the country.

Several hundred police officers took part in an investigation coordinated by the Cologne prosecutor’s office into this network called the “Bergisch Gladbach abuse complex”, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia (West).

Some 65 children identified as victims

The investigations, conducted since 2019, have identified 439 suspects across the country, the group of investigators revealed on Wednesday. About 100 of them came from North Rhine-Westphalia alone, the most populous region in Germany. Some 65 children, aged between 1 and 17, have been identified as victims of this network.

“We have suspects from all walks of life,” detailed the head of the investigation group Michael Esser at a press conference. Among them there are “people who earn a good living and very educated people” as well as “simple people”. “They went about their business normally and nothing in their work environment indicated that such acts had been committed,” he added.

According to investigators, in most cases the suspects were from the closest family background.

The head of the network sentenced to twelve years in prison

In this case, 13 sentences have already been handed down, including a 12-year prison sentence aimed at the head of this network in October 2020. Jörg L., in his 40s, faced charges of dozens of cases of child sexual abuse, including his own daughter as young as three months old, rape and dissemination of child pornography .

Most of the crimes concerned his daughter, born in 2017 and whom he would have regularly abused in the absence of her mother, until her arrest in 2019 in Bergisch Gladbach, which made it possible to dismantle the vast pedophile network.

The “Bergisch Gladbach abuse complex” is one of the pedophile networks discovered in recent months by investigators in this region of western Germany.

Another similar case concerns cases of child abuse perpetrated for years at a campsite in Lügde, some 200 km north of Bergisch Gladbach. This case concerns some forty children aged between three and fourteen at the material time.

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