Mats Albinsson first saw the picture of a bound and gagged young girl last November. It was on a kiddie-porn website, and Albinsson, an investigator for Save the Children Sweden, was determined to shut down the site. Next to the girl was a man in a blue shirt with a logo that Albinsson traced to a Danish Internet company. He tipped off the local police, and the man was arrested. The girl was the daughter of the man's girlfriend--part of an international pedophile network specializing in father-daughter incest. U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Robert Bonner announced last week that 20 people in the case had been arrested in the U.S. and Europe. "I've rarely seen crimes as despicable and repugnant," said Bonner.
The arrests mark the latest success for a growing band of cybervigilantes who are working with police to bust up these kiddie-porn rings. "There are tens of thousands of pedophiles out there swapping child porn on the Net," says Julie Posey, whose organization Pedowatch in Lafayette, Colo., has helped police with 50 cases this year. "Almost all leave a trail."
--By Terry McCarthy