Australian police said on Wednesday they had discovered a major child abuse ring with links to Europe, Asia and the United States.
Seventeen men, including an educator and a children’s football coach, have been arrested as part of a months-long investigation, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Justine Gough said.
They were charged with a total of 828 offenses, including the sexual assault of children and the production and sharing of child abuse material.
“No child should be the victim of abuse and violence by people they trust, whether they are a family member, an educator or a football coach” , Gough said.
“Unfortunately and this is the case for the victims” abused in Australia.
Global Abuse Network
Investigators said they identified 46 victims in Australia aged 16 months to 15 years.
Gough said police referred 18 cases to the United States, resulting in three of the 17 arrests. The other men were held in the Australian states of New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.
Police said they also referred 128 cases to authorities in Canada, New Zealand, Europe and Asia, without giving further details on the allegations.
Tip from the United States
Gough said the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a government-funded non-profit, passed information to Australian police in February who launched their investigation.
The tip led them to a 30-year-old man from a town north of Sydney. A search of his computer would have revealed that he was part of a network that used the “ordinary internet” as well as the dark web to share child pornography, Gough said.
Australian police have not ruled out the possibility of further arrests. Meanwhile, Adam Parks, US homeland security investigations attaché in Australia, said several investigations were underway in the United States.
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