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Pornography Taskforce Raids 400 Properties

POLICE, government officials, child-care workers and teachers are among 191 people charged in the nation's biggest crackdown on child Internet pornography.
Doctors, members of the aimed forces, and an assistant to a state MP were also among those targeted by the anti-child porn operation, which is linked to organised crime in eastern Europe.
Operation Auxin culminated this week with more than 400 search warrants executed across the country.
Six people in South Australia - including government employees - were reported for possessing child pornography. 42 "persons of interest" were identified and 21 people were interviewed.
All those reported are men and more reports are expected. More than 2000 charges had been laid, including child sex tourism, child sex abuse and downloading pornographic images of children.
The property raids yielded more than two million pornographic images of children ranging in age from two to 16.
One series featured a two- year-old in scenes of child bondage.
South Australian Assistant Police Commissioner Madeleine Glynn said: "We take it very seriously.
"Every one of these images has made someone's child a victim.
"It's absolutely dreadful that across the world and across Australia, children are being subjected to child abuse to produce images like this for the gratification of the people who purchase or download them. It shouldn't be tolerated by any society."
Some homes appeared to have studios and darkrooms designed specifically for producing child pornography.
Among the more shocking developments was a report that an owner of three Melbourne child-care centres had been charged with possessing child pornography.
In another case, police in Queensland said the nationwide operation had "rescued" seven children from one Brisbane pedophile. Police said children aged from five to 13, whose images were found on a seized computer, had been systematically abuse by the pedophile in their neighbourhood.
Their parents had been unaware of the abuse that had occurred for a number of years, said Detective Inspector Brian Huxley.
Queensland police also said serving police officers and members of the armed forces were among those charged.
Some were married with children of their own, whose families were unaware of their pedophile activities, police said
Raids in SA- 32 in the metropolitan area and four in rural areas - netted 62 computer hard drives and more than 1300 CDs and DVDs, 600 floppy disks, 200 videos and magazines, books and scrapbooks with tens of thousands of sexual Images involving children.
Of the computers seized, more than 90 per cent were found to contain the disturbing images.
Nationally, intelligence from the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC), the Australian Federal Police, and state and territory police led to the discovery of studios in residential houses allegedly used for production and distribution of images. "Many ot these images have originated overseas, and it is alleged police have also located photographs of children being abused by offenders here in Australia," said Senator Christopher EUison, Federal Minister for Justice and Customs.
Three police officers - two from New South Wales and one from Western Australia - were charged in the course of the operation.
AHTCC Director Mike Phelan said yesterday Operation Auxin should send the message that child exploitation will not be tolerated.
"Conducting business from behind a computer screen doesn't make the crime any less heinous and doesn't guarantee the perpetrator's protection from police detection," he said.
Premier Mike Rann welcomed the swoop, claiming moves were under way to "five-fold the maximum penalties for child pornography" and implement mandatory criminal history checks on the state's 35,700 registered teachers.
"People who prey on the innocence of children by ensnaring them and then creating or distributing child pornography is sickening," he said.
The raids came after websites in eastern Europe were targeted by a major international investigation, headed by the US Customs Service.
Senator Ellison said it was of great concern that the pornography ring was so widespread in Australia.
Operation Auxin was after a similar crackdown in the US by a US Customs-led taskforce involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Adelaide Advertiser (1-10-2004)

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