More than 30 homes in 12 counties across the Republic of Ireland have been searched as part of an investigation into the possession and distribution of child-abuse images.
The raids were carried out over the past three days. Computers, phones and other equipment have been seized. Gardaí (Irish police) said the operation was at the evidence-gathering stage but arrests and charges were expected.
They also said their first priority was to try to identify if any of the children in the images remained in danger. Gardaí said the investigation by the Online Child Exploitation Unit at the Garda’s Protective Services Bureau has been under way since last year.
Known as Operation Ketch, it was set up to target people suspected of possessing and distributing child exploitation images. As well as their own inquiries, gardaí received information from law enforcement authorities in the United States and Canada. Searches began on Saturday and continued on Monday in counties including Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Limerick, Kerry and Waterford.