At least 14 children have been rescued and nine men arrested after Australian Federal Police smashed open what they believe is one of the biggest domestic child exploitation networks in recent times.
Police say the men are accused of abusing and exploiting Australian children and recording the horrific crimes to share with others.
“Detectives will allege in court that some of the accused men had sexually abused children known to them and recorded videos and photographs of the abuse to share with others online,” AFP Assistant Commissioner for ACCCE and Northern Command Lesa Gale said on Friday.
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“The efforts of all officers involved in the investigation has resulted in at least 14 children removed from harmful situations, and saved from abuse in the future.”
Assistant Commissioner Gale said detectives are continuing to try to identify other children who they suspect were preyed on by individuals in the alleged network.
“It is heartbreaking to think of any child being sexually abused, but it strengthens our resolve to hunt down perpetrators and bring them to justice,” she said.
Two men, aged 21 and 26, from the New South Wales mid-north coast are the latest men to have been arrested during the operation, which began in February after a tip-off from the United States’ National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
The pair were taken into custody yesterday after detectives executed search warrants at homes in the towns of Kendall and Old Bar.
The 26-year-old man was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse with child under the age of 10 years, two counts of produce child abuse material and two counts of possess/control child abuse material using carriage service.
The 21-year-old man was charged with six counts of sexual intercourse with child under the age of 10 years and possess child abuse material.
Both men faced Kempsey Local Court today, where they were remanded in custody to appear at Port Macquarie Local Court on Thursday 10 September.
Another seven men from NSW, Queensland and Western Australia have previously been charged as part of the investigation which remains ongoing.
Police say further arrests and charges have not been ruled out, with members of the public who have any information being urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.