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12 people released in investigation over alleged child sexual exploitation

12 people who were arrested as part of a garda investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation of children have been released.

Gardaí say files are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Officers raided 32 premises in 12 counties between Thursday and Monday in an operation targeting those who possess, import and distribute child pornography on the internet.

The individuals were arrested on Monday and were held in garda stations in the south and south-west of the country.

Digital material, computers and mobile telephones were seized during the searches and one of the raids targeted someone suspected of selling and facilitating the online distribution of child sex dolls.

Gardaí have said that this is the third phase of their operation and more than 100 suspects have been targeted. In February, they searched 38 premises, then they searched 35 more in July.

Yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, who heads the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said: "The Garda Síochána wishes to reassure the public, through operations such as Ketch and other ongoing work undertaken by the Online Child Exploitation Unit, at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), that they will continue to relentlessly pursue those involved in the possession, importation and distribution of child abuse material and who pose a danger to children within our communities”.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who heads Special Crime Operations, also said: "The Garda Síochána places great importance on undertaking proactive initiatives that target those who use the Internet to exploit children online and who are involved in the downloading of child abuse material.”

Digital Desk