Three FNQ men arrested over nationwide paedophile ring
A 26-YEAR-OLD man from East Innisfail, and two Cairns men, have been charged with possessing child exploitation material, after a nationwide investigation into child exploitation by the Australian Federal Police - Operation Molto.
They are three of 11 Queensland men alleged to have been in the possession of child exploitation material and who have racked up a combined 114 charges.
During the year-long operation, 44 Australian men were charged with 350 offences.
Most concerning, 16 children were considered to be in harm's way and had to be removed from their circumstances during the investigation.
Two of those children were from Queensland, as well as; one from New South Wales, one from ACT, six from Victoria, and six from South Australia.
Some of the offenders were accused of producing their own child abuse material online, and were allegedly in possession of material that was produced by a man arrested by the AFP in 2015 under Operation Niro - which resulted in the dismantling of an international organised paedophile syndicate, classified by the AFP as one of the most abhorrent cases.
Some of the other Queensland men facing charges were from Nerang, Redland Bay, Coomera, Brightview, Beenleigh, East Hervey Bay, and White Rock.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said while the hard-work, diligence and co-operation of police should be recognised, victims remained in the front of mind for law enforcement agencies.
"Arresting offenders and putting them before the court is only half the battle,'' Commissioner Kershaw said.
"Identifying victims is a race against time and the ACCCE's victim identification team is relentless in rescuing children from sexual abuse.
"Pixel by pixel, our investigators painstakingly look for clues and never give up and the tools they use give Australian police access to world leading expertise.
"Viewing, distributing or producing child exploitation material is a crime. Children are not commodities and the AFP and its partner agencies work around-the-clock to identify and prosecute offenders."
The ADF said the offenders were in various lines of work including, law enforcement, construction, transport, and hospitality.
Operation Molto was led by the ADF, and began when the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) was referred a law enforcement report showing thousands of offenders were using a cloud storage platform to share abhorrent child material abuse online.
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.