Timing was crucial in the busting of an alleged online child
sexual abuse network, New Zealand authorities say.
Six offenders were caught in the New Zealand operation
codenamed Operation Hyper, media were told today in Auckland.
Hyper also identified four children who had the potential to
be harmed, and rescued a 6-year-old girl in the UK.
"The operation required meticulous planning and execution to
ensure enforcement activity did not jeopardise potential
victim safety or alert suspect offenders who could warn
others in their network," said Customs Manager Border
Operations Shane Panettiere.
"With greater global connectivity, offenders think they can
operate anonymously accessing and exchanging child sexual
abuse material, but they will not go undetected."
He said online child sexual abuse is a serious borderless
crime, against which agencies join forces to actively share
information and conduct investigations to protect children
and target offenders.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, head of Police's
Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand unit, said
Operation Hyper was a great example of domestic and
"A global taskforce is committed to identifying and
protecting children in New Zealand and across the world from
online sexual exploitation and sexual offending," he said.
Internal Affairs' team leader, Censorship Compliance Unit,
Jon Peacock said it took a network to defeat a network.
"The agencies involved actively shared information and
conducted investigations to target and arrest the offenders
when the timing was right," he said.
Andy Baker, the Deputy Director of the UK's National Crime
Agency, CEOP Command, said the internet knew no bounds, so
international partnerships and relationships were crucial
when tackling child sexual exploitation.
Operation Hyper began last June when a referral by Queensland
police led to a Customs search warrant at the home of a
41-year-old man in central Auckland.
His young child was assessed by government agencies for harm.
Information gained as a result of this warrant also
identified other offenders in New Zealand and the UK.
Internal Affairs, police and Customs conducted simultaneous
warrants on Auckland's North Shore and in Levin, while UK
police arrested a man in West Yorkshire, a media conference
in Auckland today was told.
As a result of these warrants another man living in the UK
was identified, and in December, UK police arrested the
62-year-old, and rescued his grand-daughter from physical
sexual abuse, which was also being filmed and distributed.
In New Zealand, Customs and police conducted a further search
warrant at a Northland home and assessed of two young
children living at the property.
Gary Ronald Barnes, 53, of Levin, who was arrested by NZ
Police, was sentenced last October to two years and five
months' imprisonment for 25 counts of possessing an
objectionable publication and five counts of distributing
The central Auckland man charged by Customs for possession
and exportation is due to appear in court for sentencing in
A 50-year-old North Shore man faces similar charges, laid by
Internal Affairs, and charges are yet to be laid against the
32-year-old Northland man.
Both men arrested in the UK are yet to be sentenced.
- Martin Johnston of the NZ Herald and