The Civil Guard has arrested a 42-year-old man in Malaga accused of alleged sexual abuse of 26 minors from different parts of Spain, whom he contacted through video games, especially Fortnite. The victims are between eight and 12 years old. The arrested person paid them virtual gifts and, in exchange, made video calls in which he asked the children to show their sexual organs. In addition, he captured those images, accumulating more than 2,000 files of pedophile content. During the investigation, the existence of a case of physical sexual abuse of a minor, the son of a friend, has been verified. The agents have analyzed more than 560 gigabytes of information in the computer material seized from the arrested person, who had already been arrested in 2005 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for another 22 crimes of sexual abuse and two of exhibitionism, for which he spent more than a dozen in jail. Since his capture, he finds himself back in pre-trial detention.
The “sexual predator”, as identified by the Civil Guard in a statement, had accessed online video game platforms more than 3,000 times in the last two years. It was there that he began to have contact with minors —both boys and girls— to gain their trust “through deception and abuse of superiority.” To get closer to them, he paid them virtual gifts for video games, such as costumes, tools and other elements of the characters in the games. “These are things that cost four or five euros, but for the kids it means a lot,” sources in the case say. Later, he would ask his victims to make video calls to chat while they played. In them, he induced them to show their sexual organs and other similar actions, and he recorded those moments. “He gained his trust, he became his friend and the children, of such young ages, did not intuit that what he asked of them could have a sexual nature,” add the agents who have developed the investigation, in which more than 2,000 images have been involved. and videos with pedophile content spread across different computing devices and the cloud.
The investigation began in July 2021, when the parents of a nine-year-old boy reported suspicions that their son was in contact with an adult through an online video game that he connected to with his game console. For several months, the team from the Department Against Cybercrime of the Central Operational Unit of the Civil Guard worked to corroborate the facts and verified that the man had contacted children from different parts of Spain. In fact, investigators found that he had made 81 payments to game user accounts who were minors. Many of his parents, according to the agents, believed that their children did not play online games without adult supervision. The Civil Guard does not rule out that there are more victims.
Finally, the agents proceeded to arrest him in Malaga, where he lived, in November. It was when they began to make all the checks, case by case, which is why it took several months to make his arrest public. “We only had the images of the minors and their Nick [apodo] of video games, so it has been a job that has taken a long time. In addition, everything had to be verified and the parents notified”, the researchers stress. There are several victims from Malaga, but also from other communities such as Galicia, the Basque Country, La Rioja and Madrid, as well as cities such as Valladolid and Albacete.
42 years old and with dual Argentine-Italian nationality, the detainee has a history of similar causes. In 2005, 22 complaints were filed against him and he was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison, although after appealing the sentence, it remained in 12 years. After spending more than ten in prison, he was expelled from Spain. He later returned to the country, since he has an Italian passport, but in an irregular administrative situation, which is why he has not been able to work legally during this time. He settled down with his mother in a house in Malaga, and did small translation jobs on-line and also gave private lessons to minors. To gain the trust of the parents, he showed them an Italian criminal record certificate. The arrested man was also offered as a sports monitor, camps and English teacher -among other activities related to minors- although there is no record of any hiring in that regard.
He is accused of crimes of sexual abuse and recruitment of at least 26 minors for the purpose of producing child pornography. It has also been possible to verify the existence of a case of physical sexual abuse of a minor, the son of a friend, whom he already deceived in her house to take images of a sexual nature. The man also frequently visited nudist beaches on the Spanish and French coast, where he also took numerous photographs, as the more than 560 gigabytes of information belonging to the intervened material have shown.
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