Finnish police have uncovered a child abuse ring in which suspects filmed boys as young as six being sexually abused in Finland and then distributed and exchanged footage over the internet, the National Bureau of Investigation says.
Chief investigator Sanna Springare said the investigation spread to 17 Western countries, most of them European, without elaborating.
The investigators said five men had been arrested on suspicion of violently abusing and raping their victims - six boys aged six to 15 who were sometimes sedated - over the course of 14 years between 2004 and 2018.
"The mildest form of abuse that took place in Finland was showing adult porn to a (child) victim and the worst was raping a drugged child for 10 hours," she said.
The main suspect is accused of leading the men in producing footage which they distributed internationally, sometimes on live internet broadcasts, in order to receive similar material from other countries in exchange, police said.
The illegal material received from abroad and redistributed by the Finnish ring included footage of a child being killed during the abuse, the investigation team said.
Springare declined to give details about the suspects or places where the crimes had taken place, to protect the victims' privacy.
The police will now hand the case over to the prosecutor who will consider whether to bring charges against the suspects.