A 32-year-old American man has been arrested and a child removed from harm in the United States after the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) identified and tracked the man online. The centre is an initiative led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
The ACCCE’s Covert Online Engagement Unit identified a user based in America allegedly producing and uploading images of a child on 18 March 2021. It then notified Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the United States.
HSI’s mission is to investigate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist, transnational and other criminal organisations that threaten or seek to exploit the US customs and immigration laws.
HSI and Kentucky State Police rescue the child
The ACCCE report led to the immediate launch of an investigation by HSI, who partnered with the Kentucky State Police to arrest a Kentucky man and rescue the child from further harm on 31 March 2021.
The man has been charged with 25 child abuse offences, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
Hilda Sirec, the AFP Commander of the ACCCE, said the Federal Police’s expertise stood ready to protect children online, regardless of where they are located in the world.
“Our investigators at the ACCCE are dedicated to protecting children in Australia from abuse and work with law enforcement across the world to do the same,” Sirec said.
Speed of action reflects excellent co-operation
“Our message to offenders accessing or exchanging child abuse material is that we will not stop investigating anyone responsible for spreading this abhorrent material and bringing them before the court.”
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Attaché to Australia, Adam Parks, said the speed with which the child was removed from harm reflects the exceptional working relationship between HSI and the AFP.
“Despite the distance between the US and Australia, our dedicated men and women are joined together in a solemn duty to protect the vulnerable,” Parks stated.
“As demonstrated in this investigation, we will pursue justice wherever it leads and no matter the hour, when confronted by these horrendous crimes.”