Two addresses in Newton Aycliffe were searched as part of a County-wide probe into child abuse images.
Six men have been arrested in County Durham as part of the multi-agency investigation.
‘Operation Mazarin’ has been led by Durham Constabulary’s e-safety unit but also involves the National Crime Agency and the regional crime unit, NERSOU (North East Region Special Operations Unit).
Information was also supplied via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
On Tuesday morning officers executed search warrants at two addresses in Newton Aycliffe and a house in the Belmont area of Durham. Three men – aged 21, 56 and 64 – were arrested.
And at breakfast time today (Wednesday) police carried out further searches at properties in Bowburn and Esh Winning, and one in the Seaham area. This resulted in three more arrests of men, aged 45, 24 and 48.
All six were detained on suspicion of the possession and distribution of indecent images.
Those arrested on Tuesday have been released on police bail while enquiries continue, the men arrested today are in custody at various police stations awaiting interview.
Laptops, hard drives and other computer-related equipment were seized along with mobile phones from the various properties (pictured below).
Police say these will now be examined by specialists from Durham’s e-safety unit.
Officers from the local neighbourhood policing teams also assisted in executing the warrants and the house searches.
“This operation has been planned over a number of weeks and has been based on intelligence from a number of sources,” said Det Sgt Steve Days from the e-safety unit.
“Our actions have concentrated on identifying people we suspect of being involved in the distribution of both still and moving images of child abuse.
“Durham Constabulary will not tolerate this type of activity and will use every investigative means and technology to trace and arrest those involved in this type of offence. Our investigations are vital for the safeguarding of children.”
By coincidence yesterday was Safer Internet Day, an initiative which saw more than 1,000 organisations promote the safe, responsible and positive use of technology for children and young people.