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Spanish police have arrested 19 people across the country in connection with alleged paedophile activites, including online grooming, sexual abuse and distributing paedophile material on the internet.

According to Spain's Interior Ministry, the suspects - from locations including Madrid, Barcelona, Badajoz, Valencia, Granada, Murcia, Santander, A Coruña and Córdoba - sexually abused children, recorded the assaults and then distributed the images online, El Mundo reports.

The investigation began last August when a Madrid mother alerted the authorities that her 12-year-old son had been approached in an internet chat room by someone called "José" who offered the boy money and presents in return for sex. The police traced the 29-year-old suspect to Murcia, where subsequent investigations showed that he was in contact with other paedophiles to whom he offered minors he had groomed. He is also alleged to have recorded some of these sexual encounters.

Police arrested "José" on 2 September last year when he arrived at a hotel to meet his intended victim. He had hired a room in which police found a laptop computer, mobile phone and video camera. The authorities also raided his home, in which they discovered incriminating video tapes and computer evidence which allegedly attests to his abuse of dozens of children.

Analysis of the material allowed investigators to track down other suspected paedophiles, including a 41-year-old who was cuffed in January when he attempted to pick up a child from a Madrid school in his car. Police seized two computers, still and video cameras, and hundreds of CDs from the suspect's house. ®

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