Thirteen men, including a primary school teacher, have been charged following raids across Victoria which allegedly uncovered child abuse material featuring victims as young as newborns.
Victoria Police and the Australia Federal Police raided homes across 19 suburbs and one country town over several days in March in the major operation.
They discovered horrific child abuse material, child sex dolls, weapons and drugs.
“The material that we’re talking about here that’s been seized relates to images of children as young as newborn children to the age of 17 years,” Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters on Wednesday.
“It involves them in sexually provocative poses, it involves them being subject to violence, it involves them being in degraded acts and it also involves torture.
This is horrendous. To view this material, to make this material, to share this material – it’s abhorrent, its offensive and it’s disgusting.”
Thirteen men, aged 19 to 62, have been charged and another two are expected to be charged on summons.
Many are parents and work across of range of industries including administration and hospitality, Mr Patton said.
One man was a teacher working in administration at a primary school, but has since been stood down.
“Where we charge anybody in a position of trust we notify their employer, which has occurred on this occasion,” Mr Patton said.
Investigators swooped on the men in the hope they would be able to rescue children from international child pornography rings, Mr Patton said.
“We needed to target these people to gain intelligence, to gain evidence and to disrupt the criminal activities and also to see whether any children needed to be rescued throughout this.”
One video seized involved victims from the Philippines, AFP Superintendent Paul Hopkins said.
Police in the Philippines disrupted that ring, involving alleged offenders from Australia, the US, Brazil and the Philippines, he said.
“Where it happens, wherever it happens, we will track them down and save the victim – that’s our highest priority,” Mr Hopkins said.
The joint task force is now trying to identify the children in the thousands of videos and photos. No Australian children were in need of rescue at this stage.
Mr Patton warned people accessing “millions” of child abuse videos and photos monthly in Australia that they were “onto them”.
“If they’re naive enough to sit at home and think they’re not going to be targeted, they’ve got another thing coming,” he said.
The department of education did not comment on the teacher charged, given the matter was under police investigaton.