Digital art for the tele
Digital art for the tele

Child porn blitz: 16 kids rescued, 44 men arrested

Federal police have arr­ested 44 men across the ­country - eight of them in NSW - in a stunning crackdown on alleged creeps sharing child sexual abuse material using "a cloud storage" company.

There were 49 charges handed out in NSW following recent raids at Blacktown, Eagle Vale, Fairfield Heights, Hornsby, Deniliquin and the Hunter Region.

 

Two men were arrested in Eagle Vale. Picture: Supplied
Two men were arrested in Eagle Vale. Picture: Supplied

The eight men charged included an IT consultant, a forklift driver and a retail worker.

The Australian Federal Police investigation began last year when a foreign intelligence agency tipped off authorities here that thousands of men around the world were sharing abhorrent material, some of which they had produced themselves, on a particular cloud-based storage system.

 

One child in NSW was ­removed from harm and the AFP said it saved 16 children from potential abuse across the country in the investigation titled Operation Molto.

Some of the men arrested in Australia are alleged to have shared material produced by notorious paedophile Peter Scully, who is currently serving life in the Philippines.

The AFP classified Scully's work as "the most abhorrent produced".

 

Strike Force Molto officers with a suspect at Blacktown. Picture: Supplied
Strike Force Molto officers with a suspect at Blacktown. Picture: Supplied

Operation Molto was run through the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, which Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told parliament on Thursday had seen a massive surge in ­demand for investigations.

"From 1 July, 2019 to 30 June this year ACCCE ­received 21,000 incoming ­reports of child exploitation material. That's compared to 14,000 reports in the previous financial year, a dramatic ­increase," Mr Dutton said.

The shocking increase comes as the federal government reaches for more powers to confront a different platform used to send illicit material, the highly encrypted "dark web". The Daily Telegraph understands new legislation could be introduced into the parliament within weeks giving spy agencies better access.

 

Some of the evidence seized by officers. Picture: Supplied
Some of the evidence seized by officers. Picture: Supplied

 

Police attend a Rutherford address. Picture: AFP
Police attend a Rutherford address. Picture: AFP

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said sites hosting online child sexual abuse material were "crashing due to the increased volume of traffic".

"During the early stages of COVID-19 (between February and April) the AFP witnessed traffic to dark web forums offering child abuse material more than double to the same period in 2019," she said.

Mr Dutton has also previously criticised plans by Facebook to encrypt its Messenger platform, not used by the men arrested in Operation Molto, because it would make it easier for paedophiles to share material and harder for spy agencies to see into it.

 

 

 

Originally published as Child porn blitz: 16 kids rescued, 44 men arrested


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