GENEVA: Swiss police said Tuesday that a secret operation using the profile of a convicted paedophile had allowed them to identify over 2,200 child sex offenders and users of child pornography worldwide.

The revelations made over the course of several years through the operation, dubbed Ninja Turtle, enabled arrests in Switzerland and several other countries, police in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau said in a statement.

The investigation dates back to 2012 when Swiss police were informed that a person living in Aargau and using the pseudonym “Ninja Turtle” was distributing child pornography using GigaTribe -- a platform for sharing material anonymously.

Police tracked down the person hiding behind the pseudonym -- a 62-year-old German man -- who was convicted in 2015.

But once he had been caught, investigators continued to use his profile to unmask other paedophiles and users of illegal child sex images.

“The multi-year covert operation on the internet was a success: 2,200 pedo-criminals were unmasked,“ the police statement said.

Arrests had been made in a number of Swiss cantons, as well as in countries including Croatia, Brazil, France and Spain, the statement said.

Some of those identified were not just users of child pornography, but also so-called hands-on perpetrators who themselves physically abused children. -AFP