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98 people arrested in US, Australia with links to child sex abuse


At least 98 people have been arrested in the US and Australia in connection to sexually abusing children, more than two years after two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were killed while investigating an alleged international paedophile ring. At a news conference Tuesday, the FBI and Australian Federal Police (AFP) said 79 arrests, 65 indictments, and 43 convictions were carried out as a result of the joint operation in the US, while 19 men were arrested in Australia, reports CNN. The alleged child abuse ring was a “peer-to-peer network” with “some offenders committing offences for over 10 years”, said Australian Federal Police Commander Helen Schneider. “Some of the children were known to the men who were arrested,” Schneider said without giving further details.

She added that there was a possibility of further arrests. The AFP started its probe in 2022 when the FBI passed on details of Australian members of the network allegedly sharing child abuse material on the dark web. “This operation was highly complex,” CNN quoted the FBI’s legal attache in Canberra, Nitiana Mann, as saying to the reporters. “The complexity and anonymity of these platforms mean that no agency or country can fight these threats alone.” The FBI legal attache added that over 200 international leads had been sent to partner countries and more than 300 investigations opened as a result of the joint operation. In a separate statement, the AFP said that most of the Australian offenders had jobs that required advanced IT skills. Members of the network allegedly used “software to anonymously share files, chat on message boards and access websites within the network”, using encryption and “other methods to avoid law enforcement detection”, the statement added.

On February 2, 2021, FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger died during a shootout at an apartment complex in Sunrise, Florida, while executing a federal search warrant for a computer programmer suspected of possession of child abuse material. Three other agents were wounded and the suspect in the shooting died at the scene.

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