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13 arrested in alleged child exploitation ring breakthrough



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THE HON. JASON CLARE MP MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER FOR JUSTICE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MATERIEL

MEDIA RELEASE

13 arrested in alleged child exploitation ring breakthrough

23 March 2012

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare today congratulated the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for breaking an alleged child exploitation ring - arresting 13 people and seizing hundreds of thousands of images and videos.

The covert AFP investigation, code named Operation Belfort, targeted a number of Australians allegedly accessing, downloading and possessing child abuse images over a file sharing network.

The AFP Child Protection Operations teams began investigating this group of alleged online offenders late last year and over the past week, have executed search warrants across Australia, seizing computers, hard drives, laptop computers, portable storage devices and mobile phones.

“This is a really important breakthrough - smashing an alleged child exploitation ring and taking hundreds of thousands of child exploitation images and videos out of circulation,” Mr Clare said.

“The work the AFP are doing to protect our children against predators who seek to harm them is tough and I congratulate them on the work they are doing.”

Mr Clare said the Australian Government was providing the AFP with the tools it needs to combat child exploitation.

“In May 2008, the Australian Government allocated $125.8 million over four years to expand the AFP’s anti-child exploitation work and to fund tools like the Cybersmart website which gives parents and kids important tips for staying safe on-line, Mr Clare said

This can be found at www.cybersmart.gov.au.

“We have also introduced tough new penalties for child exploitation offences,” Mr Clare said.

“A person who grooms or procures a child for sexual activity overseas can now be locked up for up to 15 years.

“We have also created new offences to make it illegal to use devices like mobile phones to exploit children.”

Media contact: Korena Flanagan - 0418 251 316