BERLIN (Reuters) - German cyber crime authorities have uncovered a massive online network of at least 30,000 people who share child pornography and exchange advice on how to sedate and abuse minors, law enforcement authorities said on Monday.
Peter Biesenbach, justice minister in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said investigators were stunned by the scale of the network and that a special task-force has been set up to find the suspects and bring them to justice.
"People log on to a chat, not on the dark web, but on messenger services on the normal web," said Biesenbach. "They get instructions from other users on what sedatives one should give children in order to abuse them.
"A discussion ensues on which children can be abused," he added.
Some users admit that they had long wanted to be part of such networks but had never dared to do so. They get encouragement from more experience users.
Biesenbach said the task-force would have to act quickly before the chats were deleted, which would make it almost impossible to identify the suspects.
"I felt sick when I heard it but it has also made us more determined to pursue this inquiry," he said. "I fear it is going to be more than 30,000 suspects."
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Nick Macfie)