Lebanon arrests paedophile gang suspects

Lebanon arrests paedophile gang suspects
Lebanese authorities are cracking down on a paedophile gang which used TikTok to lure minors who were allegedly raped and blackmailed.
2 min read
The gang had reportedly recruited teenagers outside Lebanon "to lure children on TikTok" [Getty]

Lebanese authorities have arrested at least eight suspected members of a paedophile gang as of Friday, including three minors who are influencers on TikTok.

The minors were used to lure other minors who were allegedly "drugged, raped and blackmailed into promoting drugs", a judicial official said.

The eight arrested so far are suspected of being part of a wider group of 28 people identified in connection with the case, the official said. Lebanese media says the gang members include Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish nationals.

The arrests came after children complained to the public prosecution about being "sexually assaulted and photographed by members of an organised gang, and forced to use drugs in hotels", Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said Wednesday.

The judicial official said the gang had recruited teenagers outside Lebanon "to lure children on TikTok".

A security official familiar with the investigation told AFP on Thursday that six victims "not older than 16 years of age" had testified so far.

Lebanese media says the number of victims could be in the dozens.

They were lured through a "clothing shop account offering deals or promises of being featured in advertisements, or through a hair salon or fake social media accounts", the security official said.

Suspects "raped them, filmed the rapes and then made them watch the videos, and blackmailed them, threatening to post the footage (online) if they spoke out", he added.

"The investigation is ongoing... and work is underway to arrest all of the gang members," the police said.