Police Take Down Largest Child Sex Abuse Ring in Australia
Men arrested allegedly filmed themselves raping boys aged between four and seven
Federal authorities in Australia have taken down the country's largest child sex ring, according to reports.
The child abuse operation was busted after disturbing footage of men allegedly raping young boys was shared on the dark web.
Nine men were arrested across Australia on Thursday over allegations they sexually assaulted children and shared videos of their horrific crimes online.
Two of the men - aged 21 and 26 - were charged with allegedly raping eight children in Kendall, where missing boy William Tyrrell was last seen in September 2014.
Australian Federal Police have refused to comment on whether they believe any men in the child sex ring have links to William's disappearance.
One of the men previously worked at the childcare center in the small country town, The Courier Mail reports.
The sting operation was a joint effort between federal authorities and police in New South Wales, where seven of the suspects were arrested.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale has made an impassioned plea as authorities took down the child sex ring.
Gale told reporters on Friday police believe they’ve cracked: “the biggest domestic child exploitation network uncovered in recent times.”
She also made a plea to parents.
“Today I plead - I plead to the parents who are listening here now, many who cannot bear to hear this type of offering, please do not walk away from your television, please do not turn the volume down,” Comm. Gale said.
"Please turn the volume up. We need you to listen, we need you to be vigilant.
"Child exploitation in Australia is becoming more prolific.
"The victims are getting younger and younger.
"This type of offending is becoming more violent and brazen.”
She added the Australian Federal Police don’t want to have to tell parents their child is the victim of sexual abuse or exploitation.
“But this is not the case for the parents and guardians of up to 14 young victims identified through Operation Arc Stone,” she said.
“There could be more, and we believe that there are.
"We are painstakingly reviewing material.”
The child sex ring was operating in the same NSW town, Kendall, where William Tyrrell mysteriously disappeared in 2014.
An NSW Police spokesman said the child sex ring arrests are not believed to be related to William Tyrell's disappearance at this stage.
Comm Gale said while the cases were not believed to be linked, she was unable to say if the men were in the town of 1000 people when William went missing.
The two men, who face child exploitation and child harm charges, appeared in Kempsey Magistrates Court on Friday.
It's alleged that some of their victims were family members.
Police have uncovered evidence that the men's alleged offending began in 2018, but it may have started earlier.
One of the men previously worked at a child care center in the Kendall area but left his position in 2018.
Neither had a criminal record before they were arrested.
The arrests are part of a broader national operation with previous arrests in Queensland, NSW, and Western Australia.
In total, nine men aged in their 20s have been arrested in relation to the child abuse that was filmed, photographed, and shared online.
Six are from NSW, one is from Hervey Bay in Queensland, and one is from Western Australia.
They all remain before the courts.
The Hervey Bay man was arrested in April.
Comm Gale said officers have followed the "breadcrumbs" since.
One Sydney man charged is understood to be a soccer coach.
Comm Gale said the men's alleged offending and evidence gathered had shaken some of the AFP's most seasoned officers.
She said some of the alleged offenders knew each other outside the online child sex ring.