MANILA, Philippines - The leaders of the international "sextortion" ring that has victims all over the world have been identified, but Philippine authorities will not disclose their identities just yet as they are still being hunted down.
A multinational police operation busted the syndicate in the Philippines on Wednesday, with 87 people being arrested, including three men identified as the Internet con artists who victimized a Scottish teenager, Daniel Perry, whose suicide last year led to the discovery of the "sextortion" ring.
Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, spokesman for the Philippine National Police, told the Inquirer by phone Saturday that authorities on top of the investigation already know who are running the syndicate.
"Many of them have been identified because of the investigation but no details are given at the moment because operations are still [going on]. Authorities are still in pursuit of the many reported cases of this sort," Sindac said in Filipino.
Sindac said the investigating authorities would not mention any detail, not even the nationalities, of the masterminds.
The Inquirer learned from a well-placed source that it appears no one person has control of all the cybersex cells.
The source said the PNP was "investigating who might be heading each one."
The source asked for anonymity for lack of authority to discuss the police investigation with journalists.
Asked how the syndicate works, Sindac replied: "As in any business, there's management."
"We don't know if there's a mother group. Right now, they alone know the depth and breadth of their operations but authorities know that it is wide and far-reaching," he said.
"[The Philippines] was not the only country involved but the Philippines was a major hit," Sindac said.