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Children rescued from Porn Network

SEVEN children have been rescued from ongoing sexual abuse in southeast Queensland and almost 200 people across the country have been arrested following an unprecedented national crackdown on Internet child pornography.   Authorities yesterday revealed disturbing results from a massive police operation and said that hundreds more people were expected to face charges in coming days with the eventual arrest total expected to surpass 400.

A sickening spotlight was cast on Queensland, where child porn-related arrests from the police operation accounted for more than a quarter of the national total of 191.   Tip-offs from US law enforcement agencies that Australians were downloading images from a Russian child Internet porn site launched the national three-month operation.   Users of the sites would gain access through credit card payments.   Teachers, police officers and military personnel were among 57 men arrested in Queensland.

It is understood some had obtained a Blue Card – allowing them to work with children – and most were married fathers with no criminal history.   Elsewhere across the nation, the arrests included a church pastor, an assistant to an MP, government officials and a Sydney doctor alleged to have used his surgery as a photographic studio for child porn.   At least 2000 charges were laid nationwide after police found more than two million computer images of children – including babies – being sexually abused and placed in bondage.   The Queenslanders arrested face a total of 1890 charges –most relating to the possession of child abuse images.

An Australian Federal Police spokesman said while more than 90 per cent of the charges had originated from Queensland, legislation in the state allowed officers to charge offenders for each individual image.   Police in all states raided more than 400 homes and businesses, including premises belonging to an alleged offender who was the director of three Melbourne child care centres.   Queensland Detective Inspector Brian Huxley, who heads Taskforce Argos, said 73 computers were seized plus thousands of images on computer discs and videos.

"We know that some of these images originate from countries such as the old Soviet bloc and out of southeast Asia. We also know that some are being created in our own backyard," he said.   Detective Sen-Sgt John Rouse said the images were "horrific".   "It may go from just images of a child naked on the beach, up to the extent of children involved with animals," he said.   Children younger than one were captured on film being abused.

Taskforce Argos also charged men with six counts of rape, 127 counts of indecent treatment of children and 17 counts of weapon related offences. One man, from the Logan City area, has been charged with repeated sexual attacks on six children in the greater Brisbane metropolitan area.   Insp Huxley said the children were aged from five to 13. The youngest was four when first allegedly assaulted.

The alleged attacker, 56, is now in custody and will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on October 19.   Another man was charged with raping a child, who was also from the Brisbane area.   Insp Huxley said while he didn't want to "over-dramatise" the situation, the seven children had "been rescued from further abuse".   He said while detectives had tried to single out some common factors for those involved in the offences only one surprising thing connected them.   "You're talking about mostly married men with children," he said. "They are the predominant offenders.   "They're not people with criminal records, they are in the community – you wouldn't know who they are."

Homes in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay area were raided in July, north and western Queensland homes were targeted in September and southeast Queensland homes were raided this week.   Insp Huxley said the raids illustrated that police were now working together to expose internet pedophiles.   "What we are about is exposing it fully to the community and by exposing it whichever way we can," he said.



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