It all started with YouTube videos of people torturing monkeys.
It then evolved into closed networks on the encrypted messaging service Telegram with customers requesting videos of extreme torture, and people in Indonesia and other Asian countries executing them.
The BBC revealed a larger networkwhere hundreds of people gathered in several torture groups on Telegram to share their keen interest in gross animal cruelty.
The videos showed gruesome scenes of the abuse, torture and killing of baby baboons, the most common monkeys in Southeast Asia.
Police are now investigating in several countries hundreds of customers in the US, UK and other countries who requested and paid for these videos. According to BBC Several arrests have already been made.
– very brutal
Mike McCartney, better known as the “torture king”, describes to the BBC when he first discovered one of the Telegram groups torturing monkeys.
– They held a ballot: ‘Do you want a hammer to engage? Do you want to use a pair of pliers? Do you want a screwdriver?’, he told the BBC.
He describes the final video as “the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen”. However, he did end up managing several Telegram groups where torture enthusiasts distributed videos.
The BBC also spoke with a hitherto unknown man, who calls himself “Mr. Monkey”. In the interview, he admitted that he was responsible for the death of at least four monkeys, and the torture of many others. He says he ordered “very brutal videos”.
Neither McCartney nor the “Mr. Monkey” have yet to be charged in the case, but they could face up to seven years in prison if charged and convicted.
The BBC has tracked down many of the people involved, both those who carried out the torture and those who ordered the videos recorded. People are located in several countries, including the USA and Indonesia.
At least 20 people are now under investigation globally, and police in Indonesia have arrested two people suspected of torturing monkeys, according to the BBC.
– deeply shocked
Special Agent Paul Wolpert, who is leading the investigation in the US, told the BBC that everyone involved in the investigation was “deeply shocked”.
Many monkey torture videos are still readily available on Telegram and Facebook.
In a statement to the BBC, Facebook wrote that it banned several groups after the BBC reported the videos to them, and that it does not allow the promotion of animal cruelty on its platforms.
However, Telegram wrote in a statement to the channel that it is “committed to protecting users’ privacy and human rights such as freedom of expression,” and added that moderators “cannot actively patrol private groups.”
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