Three Australians have been arrested after federal police helped crack an organised crime ring that streamed live internet videos of child sex abuse from the Philippines.
A joint operation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resulted in 29 arrests over 12 countries.
A joint statement from the three agencies said the group arranged for children to be sexually abused live on webcam in exchange for payment.
Authorities have safeguarded 15 children in the Philippines aged between 6-15 from the sexual abuse. Some of the the children were members of the facilitators’ own families.
The AFP executed a total of six search warrants, resulting in the arrest of three Australian offenders for child sexual exploitation offences.
Two of the men were arrested in Western Australia and one Sydney man was arrested by the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok.
Hundreds of thousands of images and videos depicting online child sexual exploitation, including children as young as five, were found during the warrants.
It will be alleged in court that the Australian offenders were financing and ordering child exploitation shows from the organised crime group in the Philippines.
The men were charged with offences including accessing, transmitting and making available child exploitation material.
These offences carry sentences of up to 25 years imprisonment.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris said the use of online media to drive this types of crime was a sinister development.
The investigation began after Northamptonshire police in the UK carried out a routine visit at the home of a registered sex offender and found a number of indecent videos on computers in the property.
A number of customers and associates were then identified and a global law enforcement investigation commenced.