Nearly 100 people in the US and Australia have been arrested in connection with child sexual abuse allegations. This comes after the fatal shooting of two FBI agents that ultimately led to the revelation of an international pedophile ring.
NBC News reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said that 19 men had been taken into custody on charges of sharing child abuse material online. This comes after 13 children were rescued from harm as a result of a joint operation with the FBI, which has been referred to as “Operation Bakis.”
The latest development has resulted in 98 total people being arrested, with at least 79 arrests carried out by the FBI.
The joint investigation was kicked off after two FBI agents were shot and killed while investigating the alleged pedophile ring in 2021. The agents were executing a search warrant in Sunrise, Florida, for a man suspected of possessing child abuse material, according to the Australian agency.
The coordinated probe was officially launched in 2022 after the FBI provided information to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation with intelligence concerning Australian individuals who were suspected of being involved in a “peer-to-peer network allegedly sharing child abuse material on the dark web.”
The Australian suspects are between the ages of 31 and 81, per the report. Only two people have been sentenced thus far.
"Members used software to anonymously share files, chat on message boards and access websites within the network," the Australian agency said. Some people have also been accused of producing their own child abuse material to share with others in the network.
Helen Schneider, Australian Federal Police Commander, said: “Viewing, distributing or producing child abuse material is a horrific crime, and the lengths that these alleged offenders went to in order to avoid detection makes them especially dangerous — the longer they avoid detection the longer they can perpetuate the cycle of abuse.”
“The success of Operation Bakis demonstrates the importance of partnerships for law enforcement, at a national level here in Australia, but also at an international level.”