US and Australia citizens are among those who have been detained
11 citizens of Georgia, the US and Australia have been arrested for trafficking children and children pornography in Tbilisi.
Amongst those detained are the parents of the children who received payment from the foreign nationals to have their children involved in the process of producing pornography.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the US and Australian citizens rented apartments in Tbilisi where they had a photo gallery. Pornographic material of the children was shot and then sold it overseas.
At least 10 underage girls have been identified at this time, with their age ranging from eight-14 years.
The parents of the children received between 500 and 3,000 GEL for their consent to have their children filmed and photographed.
Payment was made by hand or by bank transaction.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the investigation has been going on for several months and involved law enforcement officers from Europol, the United States and Australia.
One US citizen (58 years old) and one Australian citizen (61 years old) have been arrested.
The other nine detainees are Georgian citizens aged 41 to 30 years. The citizens of Georgia include the children’s parents, their relatives and the owners of illegal pornography studios.
The investigation uncovered that the US citizen was using cryptocurrency to convert earnings made from the sale of the pornography.
Police have already conducted searches of the pornography studios, from where high-end cameras, lighting fixtures, props and computer equipment were taken as evidence.
Pornographic photos and videos containing underage subjects were also taken.
The MIA says that psychologists are working with the affected children.
If convicted, the detainees could face up to 17 to 20 years or life in prison.
The MIA noted at a briefing earlier today:
“The US Embassy in Georgia says that this should be a warning to those who harm children – that law enforcement agencies on an international level, through joint efforts, will always be able to identify, arrest and prosecute. In addition, the US Department of Homeland Security’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigative Service (HCE) has always and everywhere fulfilled its obligation to protect children anywhere in the world from people who take advantage of children’s vulnerability”, the MIA said.