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Queensland police operation wins international award for dismantling a child sex offender network

Operation Achilles, a Taskforce Argos operation that lead to the dismantling of an international child sex offender network, has won a major international award.
The team was named the winner of the annual International Law Enforcement Cybercrime Award 2011 by the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace in Canada.
The two-year operation resulted in the removal of more than 60 children from sexually abusive situations, the arrest of 22 network members across the globe, and the closure of four commercial child exploitation websites.
Significant arrests included 30-year-old Townsville postal worker Derek Richard Mara, who was sentenced to six years jail in March 2009.
Police investigations revealed the 30-year-old was a major player in a highly secretive web-based network.
Another Australian, a man from Victoria, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in 2008.
Fourteen United States-based offenders were sentenced to a minimum of 16 years imprisonment, with the majority receiving life sentences.
Two United Kingdom offenders were sentenced to between two and 25 years imprisonment.
Deputy commissioner specialist operations Ross Barnett said the Achilles team had made a number of significant achievements.
``Taskforce Argos is a team recognised around the world for its work in targeting and apprehending the predators who prey on children and use the internet as an instrument to distribute and trade their appalling child abuse material,'' he said.
Operation Ice Beau, which closed last month, led to the arrest of 27 people on 163 charges including using the internet to procure children, sexual offences against children and possession and distribution of child exploitation material.
It identified a 13-year-old Leicestershire child and a 10-year-old Russian child from seized child exploitation photos and videos. Both children were identified and rescued from further abuse.
A further six Russian children were subsequently identified and removed from sexual exploitation.


www.couriermail.com.au (10-2-2011)
Brooke Baskin
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland-police-operation-wins-international-award-for-dismantling-a-child-sex-offender-network/story-e6freon6-1226003649883


See also - http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2009/03/06/42991_news.html


Australia Post manager helped run child porn ring

An Australia Post worker found to have almost 80,000 child porn files in his home computer was a "core member" of a sophisticated online child pornography ring, a court has heard.
Derek Richard Mara, 30, a former postman and Australia Post human resources manager, was jailed for six years for his role in administrating a network of people with an interest in child pornography by the use of internet newsgroups.
He was sentenced in March this year in Townsville District Court where he pleaded guilty to three charges of using the internet to access and transmit child pornography between 2006 and 2009 and one charge of recording an indecent visual image of a child under the age of 16 between December 2007 and February 2008.
His sentencing judge described Mara's collection of child porn as "a cache of depravity" and said he was shocked and disturbed by the material, some of which involved babies being sexually abused.
Of his six-year sentence, Mara was ordered to serve 32 months before he was to be released.
But Mara, a married father of three children, lodged an application for leave to appeal his sentence in the Queensland Court of Appeal.
In a judgement published on Friday, the court dismissed his application, ruling the sentence was not excessive.
The court was told the group traded in a large quantity of child porn as well as purchasing and commissioning the production of child porn. The material was posted to newsgroups as files which were unable to be viewed by anyone who did have a "key" which involved sophisticated encryption and three levels of security.
In a bid to avoid detection, the group frequently changed nicknames used by members and constantly moved the newsgroup location but in January 2006 police infiltrated the group, which had 43 members.
Over nearly two years, officers collected more than 444,000 images and 1,100 video files of child porn which had been loaded up or advertised for use by the group.
In February last year, Mara was arrested and on an external hard drive of his computer police found 75,706 images of child porn and 763 video files of child porn.
Officers also recovered 1,206 images of child porn which had been deleted and 13 images as well as 40 movie files of child porn on his computer's internal drive.
Inspecting his computer, it was revealed he had uploaded at least 116 video files of child porn for the group's use between January 2006 and May 2007.


www.brisbanetimes.com.au (24-7-2009)
Amelia Bentley
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australia-post-manager-helped-run-child-porn-ring-20090724-dvpx.html




Pedophile jail terms 'too light'

Australia's child pornography laws have been shown to be lenient, with US members of an internet pedophile ring jailed for life while its Townsville-based co-founder launches an appeal against his non-parole sentence of 32 months.
Former Australia Post human resources regional manager Derek Richard Mara, 30, will next month fight to have his commonwealth jail term cut after he was convicted as one of the four founding members of the internet's oldest known pedophile ring, The Group, which financed made-to-order abuse movies and picture shoots of children, some just a few months old.
Mara - who carried the moniker of "Tech" - provided computer expertise to encrypt and hide hundreds of thousands of files of the material sold and shared around the world.
An investigation led by Queensland's Taskforce Argos and involving Interpol and the FBI infiltrated the ring in 2006, and last year arrested 22 core members and identified another 2500 customers of child-sex websites in 20 countries. More than 40 children identified in the images were rescued from abuse during the investigation.
In recent months, The Australian has found that most of the 12 Americans convicted for their involvement in The Group have been sentenced to more than 30 years in jail for offences similar to those that Mara pleaded guilty to last year.
Five Americans were given life, and another was sentenced to 70 years after he was also convicted of abusing a child and recording it on film. Other members of The Group, convicted in Europe, have received sentences of up to life in prison.
Mara - who was also charged with indecent treatment of a child - was sentenced to six years in jail, with a non-parole period of 32 months after pleading guilty to three counts of sending and receiving pedophile images.
It is believed to be the longest sentence given under commonwealth law for the offence, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years for producing, possessing or supplying child pornography.
Child welfare expert Chris Goddard, who heads Monash University's Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia, said the states and commonwealth were lenient on those who traded in pedophile material.
"Child abuse sentencing in Australia is soft in comparison with the rest of the world," Professor Goddard said.
"The sentencing does not reflect the seriousness of the crime or the damage done.
"One of the problems is the language - we call it child pornography, which gives a sense of consent. But these offenders are hiring people to grossly exploit and commit criminal acts against children.
"We need to review the inadequate sentencing provisions."
One other Australian, former Victorian schoolteacher Ian Wayne Tucker, 51, who was convicted as a member of The Group, was sentenced to 15months in jail.
He had more than 16,000 sexually explicit pictures and pornographic videos of young children on his computer when it was seized by police.


www.theaustralian.com.au (1-6-2009)
Michael McKenna
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/news/pedophile-jail-terms-too-light/story-e6frg6no-1225719061165


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