A year-long investigation has uncovered a sadistic ring in which people produce videos of monkeys being tortured to later sell to buyers in several parts of the world, including the United States, United Kingdom and Asia.
Key details: BBC World Service was able to track down some of the creators of the torture videos in Indonesia and their distributors and buyers located in the U.S. and U.K. during its year-long investigation.
According to the report, buyers commission people from Indonesia and other Asian countries into filming themselves torturing or killing baby long-tailed macaque monkeys, using tools like screwdrivers, hammers and pliers, for money.
Law enforcement involvement: Local law enforcement in the U.K. and Indonesia are reportedly investigating the global torture ring, while the Department of Homeland Security is also looking into the matter in the U.S.
The people behind the videos: In the U.S., BBC identified a key distributor named Mike McCartney, also known as “The Torture King,” from Virginia, who described the video he had seen in his first monkey torture group on Telegram as “the most grotesque thing I have ever seen.”
Two of the five other key suspects named in the DHS investigation include Stacey Storey, a woman in her 40s from Alabama known in their community as “Sadistic,” and a ringleader known only by his moniker “Mr Ape.” McCartney was also named as one of the key suspects in the investigation.
Arrests: About 20 people globally are now under investigation, including three women from the U.K. who were arrested and later released by the local police.
Indonesian police have reportedly arrested two people suspected of torturing monkeys for money, namely Asep Yadi Nurul Hikmah, who received a three-year sentence, and M Ajis Rasjana, who received eight months of prison time.
The online groups: The BBC investigation learned that the network operates on online groups like Telegram and Facebook, which made acquiring the videos accessible. Some of those groups reportedly have 1,000 members.
Facebook has already removed some of the groups that the BBC World Service forwarded them, while Telegram told the network that it was “committed to protecting user privacy and human rights such as freedom of speech” and its moderators “cannot proactively patrol private groups.”
Similarly, YouTube has also said in its statement that it had already removed some videos that show animal abuse.