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Nothing wonderful about this club

Paedophiles have a global, secretive society. Mayabhushan Nagvenkar unravels the Wonderland Club that exchanges information on children and prowls the Net in search of children who can be sexually abused

NO CHILD PLAY: it took Interpol years to break the paedophilia ring
More than 2,000 hours of digitised footage of children being sexually abused 7,50,000 child porn images, each exceeding the other in absurd stages of vulgarity. Many pictures were that of Indian children. More than 1,200 abused children worldwide. This more or less sums up ‘The Wonderland Club’ (twc) – a reclusive, secret, global worldwide ring of paedophiles spread over 49 countries, which was busted by Interpol and other national police agencies. From the 180-member cartel of child sex perverts, 107 were arrested, 50 convicted. Eight of them committed suicide.

Several Indian Net-prowling paedophiles managed to evade arrest, merely because Interpol did not consider India a worthy partner for its Operation Cathedral — the name given for the crackdown on paedophilia — because “it lacked the technical capability to participate”.

Operation Cathedral started in California in April 1996 and ended in 2001. It turned out to be the largest operation in the history of international policing. Only 13 out of the 49 countries where the twc had spread its tentacles participated in Operation Cathedral.

The Indian paedophiles in question could surely heave a sigh of relief, as no visible efforts were made by national law enforcement agencies to nab them. They later transmitted their pornographic images to other members of the twc.

The busting of the twc was actually a climax of sorts. The seeds of this operation were sown in 1996, during an overnight party for toddlers in California.
A 10-year-old girl visiting a friend for a sleep-over party in California was sexually abused by her friend’s father Roland Riva. The act was recorded by a webcam which transmitted live video images of his sexual act to his friends in Finland, Australia and Canada and other American states. Riva and his transcontinental friends were part of an online paedophile ring called The Orchid Club.

Some months later, Riva was arrested on suspicion of molesting another child. His interrogation revealed his encounter with the 10-year-old child. When Riva’s computer was seized and searched, they found digital footage of several minors being sexually abused. After transmitting the perverse videos to his colleagues in the Orchid Club, Riva would then sell the explicit footage to clients in a particular internet chatroom.

August 21, 2004

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