Monkeys killed in blenders by sadistic torture ring that films abuse to sell online
Three women in Britain have been arrested for their involvement in a sadistic monkey torture ring that sold videos of macaques being killed across the world.
They are among 20 people under investigation globally for their role trading videos of baby long-tailed macaques being tortured, decapitated and having limbs amputated in Indonesia – including “bespoke” footage of monkeys being killed using blenders and power tools.
The torture ring, which has been compared to a child sexual abuse gang, began on YouTube and has also spread to Facebook.
But the most extreme footage was traded in private groups on the encrypted Telegram messaging app, according to a BBC investigation uncovering the abuse.
Among those arrested was a woman known as “The Immolator”, who was uncovered as “a 35-year-old woman who loved birds and lived with her parents in the English Midlands”. She was allegedly one of the cruellest contributors to one of the Telegram groups, called Ape’s Cage.
The channel – which had around 400 members – was headed by “Mr Ape”, said to be a university graduate in his mid-20s who lived in Florida. Alongside a 46-year-old grandmother from rural Alabama – known online as “Sadistic” but named as Stacey Michelle Storey – “Mr Ape” came up with some of the most unfathomable torture ideas.
They reportedly found video operators to put their plans into action on camera, predominantly in Indonesia. This included putting one baby monkey in a blender and torturing others through forced feeding, power tools and jars of acid. According to the BBC, the video operator charged around £150 per video.
While watching animal abuse online is not necessarily illegal, law enforcement agencies have been targeting those directly involved in the torture, as well as anyone who has bought or sold videos online.
Special Agent Paul Wolpert, who is leading the investigation for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said that anyone involved should “expect a knock on the door at some point”.
“I don’t know if anybody would ever be ready for a crime like this,” he added. “The same with the attorneys and the juries, and anybody who reads that this is going on. It is going to be a shocker I think.”
In America, “Mr Ape” and Storey – as well as a former motorbike gang member, Mike McCartney, who compared earnings from the footage to “drug money” – are among five people who have been targeted by DHS.
While they have not been charged, they may face up to seven years in prison if prosecuted. “Mr Ape” and McCartney claimed they had been involved only to uncover the groups, and Storey said she had been hacked.
Thousands of miles away in Indonesia, two people have already been convicted. M Ajis Rasjana has been sentenced to eight months in prison – the maximum available sentence for animal torture in the south-east Asian country – while Asep Yadi Nurul Hikmah will spend three years in jail, having also been charged with the sale of a protected species.
But the abuse has not stopped. While many of the videos have been taken down, others can still be found easily on Facebook and Telegram.
“We’ve seen an escalation in this extreme, graphic content, which used to be hidden but is now circulating openly on platforms like Facebook,” Sarah Kite, co-founder of animal charity Action for Primates, told the BBC.
In response to the outlets investigation, YouTube and Facebook said animal abuse has no place on their platforms, and they are working to remove content. Telegram said it is “committed to protecting user privacy and human rights such as freedom of speech”, and that its moderators “cannot proactively patrol private groups”.