A NSW Central Coast man is facing almost 90 charges after police uncovered a pedophile ring abusing and exploiting Australian children.
Australian Federal Police on Tuesday laid an additional 80 charges against the 29-year-old Wyong man, the first person arrested during an ongoing child protection investigation.
Beginning with a tip-off from US authorities in February, Operation Arkstone uncovered an Australian online network of offenders accused of abusing and exploiting local children and sharing the abuse online.
To date, nine men in three states have been arrested and 14 children have been saved from further harm, the AFP says.
The Wyong man was charged in February with nine offences including inciting a child to commit a sexual act, disseminating child abuse material and bestiality.
Further analysis of his digital devices led this week to 80 more charges related to the abuse of a child known to him and his sharing of the material online.
The new charges include producing child abuse material, using a child under 14 for production of child abuse material, sexual acts towards a child under 10 for production of child abuse material and disseminating child abuse material.
He allegedly attacked a boy in Sydney and then shared videos and photographs of the abuse to other people.
Police allege he also sexually abused three other boys and engaged in sexual acts with two dogs.
The Wyong man faced court on Tuesday and was remanded in custody until a further court appearance in October.
The AFP says more victims and offenders will likely be identified.
The examination of the Wyong man’s messages has already led to the arrest of a 28-year-old Queensland man in Hervey Bay, a 48-year-old Sydney man and a man in his 20s from Kendall, NSW. All are charged with multiple child abuse offences.
Police on Wednesday warned online offenders that the internet does not provide an anonymous veil.
“Operation Arkstone has uncovered this network of alleged offenders thanks to the dedicated work of our investigators, digital forensics specialists and our Interpol-trained victim identification experts,” the AFP’s Joel Wheeler said.
“They had to comb hours of disturbing content looking for clues to find these people allegedly preying on Australian children, to bring them to justice.
“We are continuing to try to identify others who are involved in this disturbing network, and hunt them down and unmask them from the anonymity of the internet and put them before the courts.”
Australian Associated Press