Five charged over alleged child exploitation
FIVE Queensland men have been arrested and four children across the country have been removed from further harm following a two-year international operation targeting online child exploitation.
Operation Walwa has seen five Queensland men charged on a total of 30 child exploitation offences and four children removed from further harm in a co-ordinated investigation by agencies across Australia and the United States.
The operation was led by Australian Federal Police's Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) with the assistance of the State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sexual Crime Group- Taskforce Argos, and local Child Protection and Investigation Units.
The sting forms part of a joint investigation with the US Homeland Security, and has resulted in 16 people across the country charged on 738 child exploitation charges.
Police said four children - three from New South Wales and one from Victoria - were removed from further harm as a result of the investigation, that has been operating since 2018.
Detective Superintendent Denzil Clark from the Child Abuse and Sexual Crimes Group said strong law enforcement partnerships and a whole-of-community response play a crucial role in the success of child exploitation investigations.
"Queensland Police will continue sharing our expertise and working collaboratively with our national, interstate and international counterparts to target those who pose a risk to children in our community," Det Supt Clark said.
Investigators involved in Operation Walwa were able to find the alleged child sexual predators by targeting a website where users paid to access the child abuse material online.
"Every day Argos investigators are online monitoring a range of platforms targeting predators who are attempting to exploit children," Det Supt Clark said.
The five Queensland men allegedly using the website have been charged with offences including use carriage service to transmit indecent images, and possess and make child exploitation material.
They are due to face court in the coming months.
AFP Assistant Commissioner ACCCE and Child Protection Lesa Gale said the results of Operation Walwa were a timely reminder of the risks associated with children being online.
"This has been a long-running joint effort by law enforcement across Australia and we're happy to see the results that can be achieved when resources are used together, particular in the current online environment," Assistant Commissioner Gale said.
Authorities urge parents and carers to keep close watch of what their children access online to ensure they remain out of harms way.
"But the first defence in the global fight against online child exploitation is parents and carers, who we ask to be vigilant with electronic devices used by their children and monitor their children's online activities," Det Supt Clark said.
If you have information or suspect anyone to be involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as Five charged over alleged child exploitation