Police in Spain’s Barcelona dismantle child sex abuse ring: 16 arrests made following two-year investigation

POLICE in Barcelona have made 16 arrests as part of a two-year investigation into members of a sickening paedophile sex abuse gang who targeted minors aged as young as 12.

Enquiries began after a complaint was raised by a 12-year-old girl who claimed that she, along with other minors, had been sexually assaulted by the lead suspect at a flat in Ciutat Vella, located in the heart of Barcelona.

Following the main suspect’s arrest, officers from the Mossos d’Esquadra uncovered a sophisticated child sex abuse network which sourced minors from social media and dating apps including Tinder before forcing them into prostitution to produce child pornography.

Investigators found over 250 videos of sexual assaults – at least 38 of which were committed by the gang leader – against 25 boys and girls, 11 of whom have been identified by police, dating between 2016 and 2022.

The victims were aged between 12 and 17 years old.

READ MORE: British man accused of child sexual abuse in the UK is arrested in expat haven in southern Spain

The minors were targeted at a flat in the popular Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona. Credit: Cordon Press

Police also learnt of over 120 conversations that contained paedophilic content ‘with police relevance’, including the exchange of explicit videos and reference to the sexual assault of minors. 

The conversations were between the leading suspect, who was born in Valencia and worked as an electrician, and other men whom we met on social media and to whom he offered minors and paedophilic material in exchange for money.

Men were then able to enter the flat via an external code – similar to those commonly used on tourist apartments.

Investigators have said the investigation was ‘complicated’ since the minors, some of whom were deemed psychologically vulnerable, were given drugs, money and other objects of value in exchange for sex.

At a press conference on Friday, Mossos investigator Josep Antoni Lopez Garzon said: “The perpetrators knew their victims were underage. There is no possibility here of ‘I was confused’ or ‘I thought they were an adult’”. 

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