MANILA, Philippines – Europe’s most wanted online child sex offender – a 32-year-old Filipino – has been detained at the Cebu City jail since his arrest in April, the International Justice Mission (IJM) announced on Thursday, July 25.
IJM said in a statement that Nelson Siacor Torayno was arrested on April 12 in Cebu City – the biggest arrest of cross-border agencies since the establishment of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) coordinating body.
Torayno is accused of assaulting his victims, filming the attacks, and distributing the videos on the dark web – placing him on top of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation or Europol's most wanted list of sexual offenders.
IJM said that despite the significance of the arrest, it could only be announced to the public on Thursday due to ongoing investigations.
Torayno was arrested in a rented room in Barangay Luz, Cebu City, and was found in possession of thousands of images and videos showing children being sexually abused by an adult.
The arrest was made by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), supported by the Austrialian Federal Police, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, and the IJM.
Torayno has been detained at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center in Cebu City, facing charges for the production and distribution of child sexual exploitation materials.
8 children rescued
A total of 8 children had been rescued to date, described as neighbors and acquaintances of the suspect, said IJM.
On the day of Torayno's arrest, two girls in Cebu City presented themselves to village officials and reported how they were abused as well as 3 other children. The 5 children from Cebu City, aged 3 to 11, received post-trauma intervention from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Also on that day, a 10-year-old boy was rescued in Liloan, Cebu; and the following day, two 8-year-old boys in Iligan City – all alleged victims of Torayno. (READ: Philippines top global source of child pornography – Unicef)
The boy from Liloan said he was lured to a secluded location after he was scouted in a computer shop. Torayno gained the boy’s trust by repeatedly paying for his fee.
The rescued children had been reintegrated back to their families, IJM said.
Australian police played a key role in the arrest of Torayno. IJM said the Queensland Police Service forwarded a referral on Torayno's case to Australian police who forwarded the information to the NBI and the PNP in September 2018. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Sex trafficking in the digital age)
The PNP and NBI secured a search warrant on April 11, signed by Cebu Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr, which facilitated Torayno's arrest.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz said the arrest highlighted the impact of cross-border collaboration among foreign law enforcement agencies in the fight against the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).
“The AFP is committed to combatting transnational child sexual exploitation, whether the offending and victims are in Australia or abroad. The arrest of such a significant suspect who is accused of abusing children to produce CSEM for international dark-web distribution highlights the value of international collaboration provided by the PICACC,” Platz said.
United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) Director Rob Jones cited the importance of global cooperation in protecting children against online sexual exploitation.
“This case truly represents how important the PICACC and international partners are to each other in protecting children and ensuring there’s no safe place for those with a sexual interest in children," Jones said.
IJM Cebu Director of Legal Interventions Lucille Dejito commended the PNP and NBI, and called on Western governments to strengthen sentencing for patrons of child pornography.
“By addressing not only the supply but also the demand side of this global crime, governments together can effectively shrink the space for impunity. If there is no demand for OSEC, there won’t be the supply, and children wouldn’t have to be commoditized over the internet in these degrading ways,” Dejito said.
The online sexual exploitation of children violates Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million; and also typically violates RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, RA 9775 or the Anti‐Child Pornography Act of 2009, and and RA 7610 or the Child Abuse Law, each with penalties equivalent to 12 to 40 years imprisonment. – Rappler.com