Four kids rescued from paedophiles in Australia
Four kids were rescued from paedophiles in Australia in a major international operation targeting online child abuse.
A two-year investigation by the Australian Federal Police and the United States Homeland Security Investigations resulted in the arrest of 16 people in Australia.
They were charged with a total of 738 child exploitation offences.
Three people were from Victoria and share 632 charges between them.
Four kids were also saved from sex abusers, including one in Victoria.
The other three child victims were located in New South Wales.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
The investigation began in 2018 when AFP were alerted to a vile website where users paid to access child abuse material.
State and territory police worked together with the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and the Australian Federal Police's Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams to track down offenders.
Australian investigators executed 18 search warrants, arrested 16 people on 738 charges as part of Operation Walwa.
More than 85 per cent of those charges were against the three alleged Victorian offenders.
It comes as a specialist Victoria Police unit last week charged two men and a woman after a child was allegedly being used as a prostitute at a Heidelberg West brothel.
The incidents took place between August and September last year, and the trio were arrested in October.
Those charged include a 50-year-old Mitcham woman, 32-year-old Mitcham man and 60-year-old Doncaster man.
Their alleged offences include causing child to take part in sex work, obtaining payment for sexual services provided by a child and agreement for provision of sexual services by a child.
AFP Assistant Commissioner ACCCE and Child Protection Lesa Gale said the 16 arrests of Australian abusers came at a critical times as kids spend more time online during the COVID-19 crisis.
"This has been a long-running joint effort by law enforcement across Australia and we're happy to see the results that can be achieved when resources are used together, particular in the current online environment."
The effort to track down the alleged offenders was immense.
Enforcement agencies including HSI Cyber Crimes Centre, the HSI El Paso Forensics Program, HSI International Operations, HSI Forced Child Labor Unit, INTERPOL and EUROPOL worked to identify and disseminate the identity of online abusers to relevant police agencies.
Victoria Police JACET manager, Detective Acting Inspector Karen Bennett said these crimes have an enormous impact on victims and their families.
"These crimes see people using significant established networks to share child abuse material and take advantage of vulnerable children. They have devastating impacts for victims and the wider community," Det A/Insp Bennett said.
"Victoria Police will continue working closely with partner agencies to address this considerable issue both in Australia and overseas.
"We will continue to develop and employ various investigative techniques which allow us to target people actively grooming and attempting to procure children, and accessing child abuse material."
Anyone with information about people involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.