The Detmold district court convicted the two men of sexually abusing dozens of young girls and boys between three and 14 years old and for producing child pornography in over 450 cases.
The men, known only as Andreas V., 56, and Mario S., 34, were sentenced to 13 and 12 years in prison, respectively. German privacy laws prevents authorities from releasing full names.
Both men will be held in preventative custody after serving their jail sentences. According to the language used in the verdict it could effectively mean that both men will be locked up for the rest of their lives.
The pair — along with a third suspect known as Heiko V. — abused more than 40 children at a campsite in the Luegde Forest in central Germany between 1998 and 2018.
Andreas V. lived in the campsite permanently and among his victims was his six-year-old foster daughter, whom prosecutors say he used as “bait” to lure other children.
German police believe Andreas V. went on to become the ringleader of a pedophile gang that used his family’s camper van as its base of operations for decades, abusing dozens of children and recording their crimes for profit on the dark web.
Authorities say they collected ten computers, nine mobile phones, more than 40 hard drives and more than 400 additional data carriers as evidence from Andreas V and two other men.
The case has scandalized the nation, especially after police recently admitted that some of the data confiscated as evidence has been “lost” while in police hands.
Despite sex abuse allegations against Andreas V., he was granted permission in 2016 to become the guardian of a six-year-old foster daughter.
The local Youth Welfare Office has now launched an investigation into how Andreas V. was allowed to become a foster parent.