Police have laid about 250 additional state and Commonwealth child abuse charges against two men allegedly involved in a domestic online network of alleged child sex offenders.
The case of two NSW Mid-North Coast men – aged 26 and 21 – was heard before the Port Macquarie Local Court on 10 September, where the matter was adjourned until 22 October 2020 to allow police time to lay further charges.
Arrests part of Operation Arkstone
The men were arrested in June as part of Operation Arkstone, which was launched in early 2020 after a tip-off from the United States’ National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to the AFP’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.
On 4 June, investigators from the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police executed search warrants at premises in the towns of Kendall and Old Bar.
Both arrested men were refused bail and remanded in custody following an appearance before the Kempsey Local Court on 5 June.
More charges have been announced
According to a statement released by the AFP on Friday afternoon, the men now face an additional 190 and 53 state and Commonwealth charges, respectively, in relation to various child abuse, child abuse material and adult sexual assault matters.
If convicted, they face a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
AFP Eastern Command Detective Superintendent, Ben McQuillan said the additional charges show that police investigations can continue long after initial arrests are made.
First priority is safety of the children
“While our first priority is to act quickly to remove children from harm, our investigations continue to uncover the extent of alleged offending and put this evidence before the courts,” McQuillan said.
Detective Acting Superintendent Chris Goddard, NSW Police State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, said while getting those who may endanger the community off the streets is important, so too is ensuring they are held accountable to all the crimes they are alleged to have committed.
“Along with our partnering agencies, NSW Police will do everything within our scope to ensure that all victims of heinous crimes such as these are delivered the justice they deserve.”
The AFP has been working with the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and state police in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia on the investigation. Enquiries remain ongoing.