A two-year effort by Australian law enforcement and the United States Homeland Security Investigations has resulted in 16 people in Australia being charged with 738 child exploitation offences.
Police executed 18 search warrants and arrested 16 people across NSW, Victoria, QLD, South Australia and Western Australia on 738 charges, 9 News reports.
Authorities also announced the removal of 4 Australian children from the alleged ring, 3 in NSW and 1 in Victoria.
He added, “But the first defence in the global fight against online child exploitation is parents and carers, who we ask to be vigilant with electronic devices used by their children and monitor their children’s online activities.”
“More so than ever, children are increasingly online for their schooling, to socialise with their friends and family, and to play games,” he said. “Let this be a warning that law enforcement is undeterred by COVID-19 and remains on-duty to keep our children safe in Australia, the US and online.”
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw agreed, saying the coronavirus lockdown had created a surge in activity on the dark web, including grooming and live-streaming, and warned parents to be hyper-aware of what their children are doing online at all times.
“It is very hard to explain to a society, to people who don’t see the images,” he told The Australian. “These involve images like you’ve never seen before.”