Operation Arkstone: Wyong man facing 80 more charges for alleged distribution, production of child abuse material


A CENTRAL Coast man will face an additional 80 charges as part of a federal child protection investigation.

The 29-year-old man, the first person arrested under the national Operation Arkstone led by the Australian Federal Police, was first charged in February.

New charges include 26 counts of possess, control or disseminate child abuse material, 12 counts of producing child abuse material, eight counts of using a child under 14 years to produce child abuse material, one count of a sexual act toward a child under 10 to produce child abuse material, 10 counts of sexual touching of a child under 10 years, one count of a sexual act towards a child under 10 and 22 counts of disseminating child abuse material.

The investigation into an alleged online network abusing and exploiting children began earlier this year after a tip-off from America's National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

Police initially charged the Wyong man with nine offences for allegedly distributing and receiving child abuse material online.

"Investigators followed the digital trail from seized electronic materials during the search warrant at his home, to uncover other alleged offenders across Australia and make further arrests, which became Operation Arkstone," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

The new charges stem from follow-up inquiries, including forensic examination of material seized during February searches.

"The man appeared before Wyong Local Court on Tuesday, 4 August, and was charged with 80 new offences relating to the abuse of a child known to him, and the sharing of this material online," the AFP said.

"It will be alleged in court that material on the man's electronic devices and cloud storage services linked to him provided evidence he was abusing a child known to him, recording it and sharing images or footage online with other like-minded individuals."

Operation Arkstone is ongoing.

AFP Eastern Command Child Protection Operations Detective Sergeant Joel Wheeler said the operation proved the internet was no haven for illegal acts.

"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," Detective Sergeant 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."

This operation was conducted with the support of United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) under HSI's Operation Predator - an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.

United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) attache Adam Parks said the group, which supported Operation Arkstone, was committed to working with international partners.

"Child predators are on notice that the relationship between the AFP and HSI is an unbreakable alliance," he said.

"Together, we will relentlessly pursue those who would seek to harm the vulnerable."

(Source)

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