Wondai man charged in international child abuse operation
A WONDAI man was one of 16 people in Australia charged with child exploitation offences as part of an international paedophile-busting operation.
He was charged with one count of possessing child exploitation material and one count of making child exploitation material after a two-year police investigation.
The joint 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.
In total, Australian investigators executed 18 search warrants and arrested 16 people on 738 charges.
Five Queenslanders were arrested, including the Wondai man and a Dalby man.
Australian police partnered with international law enforcement, including investigators from the HSI office in Phoenix, Arizona, who initiated the investigation into an illicit online marketplace where users paid for access to child abuse material.
AFP Assistant Commissioner ACCCE and Child Protection Lesa Gale said the results of Operation Walwa were a timely reminder of the risks associated with children being online.
Authorities were able to remove four Australian children from further harm.
"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," Assistant Commissioner Gale said.
Queensland Police Service Child Abuse and Sexual Crimes Group Detective Superintendent Denzil Clark said strong law enforcement partnerships and a whole-of-community response were crucial when it came to protecting children from online predators.
"Queensland Police will continue sharing our expertise and working collaboratively with our national, interstate and international counterparts to target those who pose a risk to children in our community," Detective Superintendent Clark said.
Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec from the NSW Police Force Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad urged parents to speak to their children about the dangers associated with online conversations.
"At this time, particularly with more children online during Covid-19 restrictions, we are encouraging parents to remain vigilant and monitor their usage, as well as what websites they are visiting and who they may be speaking with.," he said.
"Across Australia, there are specialist officers that investigate the sexual exploitation of children online and via telecommunication systems, and through this national collaboration there is a strong focus on detecting and prosecuting those who seek to prey on children."
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.