|Friday, 1 October 2004|
Over 150 arrested in massive blitz on child porn in Australia
Thursday (AFP) Australian police have charged more than 150 people including teachers, policemen and a child care centre operator in the country's largest-ever crackdown on Internet child pornography, officials said Thursday.
More than 400 properties across Australia were raided this week following a seven-month investigation launched on a tip-off from US authorities, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said.
Some 2,000 charges had already been laid for offences including child sex tourism, sexual abuse and possession or distribution of pornographic images of children.
More than two million pornographic images were seized involving children ranging in age from two to 16, officials said.
Justice Minister Chris Ellison said more than 400 search warrants had been executed across Australia and hundreds more people were likely to be charged.
The ring had links to Russia and eastern Europe, he said. "Many of these images have originated overseas and it is alleged police have also located photographs of children being abused by offenders here in Australia," Ellison said.
"This investigation of online access to, and use of child pornography, sends a clear message that Australian law enforcement will not rest in hunting down and prosecuting offenders utilising the Internet for this criminal behaviour." Among the findings were photograph studios located within suburban homes, and libraries of child pornographic material, some dating back 20 years.
Codenamed Operation Auxin, it followed a major crackdown overseas by a US Customs-led taskforce called Operation Falcon. "The scale of this operation and the fact that a number of professionals who work with children in positions of trust have been charged by police is concerning," Ellison said.
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