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Global paedophile ring busted two years after key member murdered two FBI agents in shootout
9 August 2023, 09:17
An international paedophile ring has been shut down by Australian police two years after a key member killed two FBI agents in a shootout before turning the gun on himself.
Some 79 men in the United States have been arrested, while 43 have been convicted in connection with the global dark web network known for possessing disturbing videos.
Australian police have charged 19 men with 138 offences, while 13 children have been rescued - some of which had been "directly abused".
An international investigation into the paedophile network was launched after the FBI's Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, were killed in a shootout.
They had been looking for suspected paedophile David Lee Huber, 55, a divorced dad-of-two, who murdered the two agents before killing himself.
The police investigation, dubbed Operation Bakis, uncovered footage of one paedophile suspect abusing a young child.
His hard drives included 16,000 files, including 800 child victims.
The suspect also had a "paedophile handbook" on how to deal with the police.
The international paedophile network was linked back to Australia, where police officers worked closely with the FBI to hunt it and shut it down.
A large proportion of the Australian suspects, aged between 32 and 81, "were employed in occupations that required a high degree of ICT knowledge".
"Members used software to anonymously share files, chat on message boards and access websites within the network," according to the Australian Federal Police.
"Network members were able to search for and distribute images and videos of child abuse material and allegedly used encryption and other methods to avoid law enforcement detection."
FBI Legal Attaché Nitiana Mann added: "We are proud of our longstanding relationship with the Australian Federal Police resulting in 19 Australian men facing criminal prosecution as a result of our collaborative investigation.
"The complexity and anonymity of these platforms means that no agency or country can fight these threats alone.
"As we continue to build bridges through collaboration and teamwork, we can ensure the good guys win and the bad guys lose."
Australian Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett continued: "If you choose to offend against children, it is only a matter of time before police come knocking on your door.
"Together with our law enforcement counterparts, we will continue to use every power available to us to put those targeting children behind bars."