According to the Bible, Lucifer was God’s favorite among the angels until he decided to rebel against the despotic nature of God’s governance. God punished Lucifer and his band of rebels and threw them out of Heaven. They fell into the depths of Hell. The pristine beauty of Lucifer, which was synonymous with the brightness of light, gets transformed into the frightening face of evil. In the mythical world, the monstrous descriptions of the devils help the heroes identify evil. But in real-world scenarios, identifying evil is really a hard task. More often than not, we find evil wearing the mask of good. In those situations, it becomes really tricky to differentiate good from evil. Moreover, what happens when the protector turns out to be outright evil? On which parameter do we discern that one criminal act is more devilish than the other? Honestly, there are hardly any right answers to these difficult questions.
As a child, I heard a story that preached the moral that anyone who loved flowers, music, and children was supposed to be a good person. In other words, anyone who would go out of their way to disrupt the harmony in the life of a child cannot be defined as anything else apart from being a ‘bad’ man. But what happens when a policeman who was supposed to protect that child turns out to be a ‘bad’ man? This is exactly what happened in the case of Martin Krossnes. In the Norwegian documentary series “Operation Lost Boy,” director Benjamin Langeland tells the important story of the fifteen-year-old boy Martin Krossnes, who mustered up enough courage to inform the local police in Bergen about being inappropriately approached by a much older man. Martin’s courage led to the launch of a case that unveiled an international ring of child pornography, and the case came to be known as ‘Lost Boy.’ It brought the subculture of adult Western men who were producers of child porn to the surface, and it also revealed the harmful side of the internet that armed these men with the tools that enabled them to share children’s pictures in compromised positions. This is an unfathomable act for a normal person who has stable mental health. The man Martin Krossnes had reported to the police at Bergen was a police officer from the nearby town of Odda. His name was Johan Martin Vie.
In the first episode of the docuseries “Operation Lost Boy,” we learn that it was on a Saturday afternoon in 2006 when Martin Krossnes met and began chatting with a man. Since this man was interested in Martin’s political views, Martin agreed to meet him in the town’s central square in Bergen. On their first encounter, Krossnes realizes that this well-built man is well beyond his age. Martin gets further alarmed when this man asks him to accompany him to a nearby hotel where he has been throwing up. This time Martin finds an excuse and calls the police from the nearby kiosk. Two on-duty patrolmen respond to Martin’s calls, and they locate a man named Johan Martin Vie, who is a colleague from the Odda police department. When they approached Vie, he responded very casually, admitting that when Martin began chatting on the internet, he thought that Martin Krossnes was someone older.
The patrolmen confiscated Vie’s mobile phone and laptop and instructed him to come the following day for a round of interrogation at 10 a.m. But just after the police left, Vie got himself involved in some suspicious actions. He drove nearly 5 or 6 hours up and down to and from Odda. The reason for this tedious trip remained unknown. The Bergen police suspected that Vie probably was trying to hide some information and may have displaced either a laptop or a hard drive that might have contained incriminating information. After a quick sweep through Vie’s residence in Odda, it was found that he was a regular police officer with a perverse interest in child pornography. Unfortunately, in a country like Norway, this was not sufficient for building up a criminal investigation. But the police had recovered the CPU from Vie’s personal computer from the trunk of his car. It is important to note here that back in 2006, Norwegian forensics was not equipped enough to break down data and gather information from someone’s personal computers. So, the lack of skill and resources leaves Vie’s CPU and laptop at the back of a long queue filled with machines that were yet to be analyzed for gathering information. In the absence of sufficient information against Vie, the Bergen police had to let him go. The episode ends with the statutory information that Johan Martin Vie could not be contacted regarding the content of the series.
In episode 2, we see the investigating officer of Bergen police, Brent Raknes, recounting the mistakes committed on behalf of the police department that resulted in the release of Johan Martin Vie. He could not believe that a colleague who was supposed to protect the inhabitants had become a predator himself. He speaks of the struggles he faced while gathering a team to investigate a crime. Moreover, he spoke about the disrespect the policemen investigating sexual crimes received, whereas top-tier status was given to the officers who were investigating murder cases. We are introduced to the team of investigators who helped Raknes in this case. They describe the importance of time in a police investigation. In fact, the lack of skilled professionals did not allow the policemen to hack into Vie’s devices. It was only after a year, in 2007, that they became privy to the information on Vie’s computers.
The investigators recall their batchmate Johan Martin Vie, who was quite different from the rest of the cadets in the police academy in 1995–1998. Vie was the son of landowners from an area called Toten. After the pornographic images were found at his residence, he resigned as a police officer and went back to live with his parents in Toten. He started earning his livelihood as a truck driver. Vie was unmarried, unsocial, and always remained aloof. But he had a great report on duty during his military service for the United Nations. All his achievements landed him a job with the Odda police. Vie would travel alone after saving up his casual leaves, but what was suspicious were his pictures from these tours, where he posed with young boys in underprivileged countries like Brazil and Sri Lanka. This led the police to suspect that Johan Matin Vie was perhaps also involved in committing sexual abuse against these children.
In 2007, when the Norwegian police were finally able to hack into Vie’s devices, they quickly recovered his personal details, but they also found fragments of chats between him and one Guido from Milan, Italy. The conversations between them available to the police were all in media res. So, the Norwegian police sought the help of Kripos, the Criminal Investigation Agency, which is equivalent to the American agency of the FBI. In the correspondence between Vie and Guido, it was revealed that Vie had come down to Milan to deliver a special package. Kripos had connected the Norwegian police to the local police in Milan through an agency called Erojust that helped the nations under the EU establish harmonious relationships when it came to solving pan-European criminal cases. The Italian police, with the Norwegian officers in the background, conducted a raid on Guido’s residence. As soon as the police broke into Guido’s apartment, this short man revealed all information about his correspondence. The police recovered obscene material on Guido’s computer too. What happened to Guido and whether Johan Martin Vie got arrested will be revealed in the next episode. “Operation Lost Boy” releases new episodes every Tuesday only on Discovery+.