Police bust online child exploitation ring

Police have busted an online child exploitation ring that's unprecedented in its scale, charging 14 men in Australia, including a childcare worker and a soccer coach, with filming and sharing the abuse of 46 babies and children.

Men from NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, are accused of preying on children between the ages of 16 months and 15 years to produce and upload child abuse material to an online network.

The accused offenders range in age from 20 to 48 years and held an array of community positions from a childcare worker, volunteer soccer coach and disability support worker to an electrician, supermarket employee and chef.

Police say the former childcare worker used his job and "other deceptive means" in his personal life to gain access to 30 children.

He then shared them with his partner, who also abused them.

The 27-year-old man has been charged more than 300 offences, including having sexual intercourse with a child under 10, indecent assault of a child under 16 and intentionally sexually touching a child under 10.

He will face Port Macquarie Court on January 21.

Police began arresting the men in February, with the most recent arrest on Friday.

They say each arrest and warrant led to the discovery of more offenders and more children needing to be saved from ongoing abuse.

Investigators have laid more than 800 charges and have not ruled out further arrests.

Eight NSW men have been charged with 577 offences against 39 children.

Police also laid 30 charges against three men in Queensland with one child victim identified, and 221 charges laid against three men with six child victims identified in Western Australia.

Bestiality charges relating to four animals were also laid against men in NSW.

More than 140 referrals to international police were made during the investigation, including 18 to the United States, which led to three arrests.

AFP Acting Commander Child Protection Operations Christopher Woods said the scale of offending was unprecedented.

"These men allegedly produced child abuse material for the depraved pleasure of their peers with absolutely no thought to the lasting effects their actions would have on these children," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Police will allege Operation Arkstone revealed a network of abuse, where the alleged offenders in the forums encouraged and emboldened each other to engage in acts of depravity and abuse of children."






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