Australian Federal Police Saves Record Number of Abused Children in Single Operation

An arrest warrant is out for a man from Queensland, Australia, after he failed to appear in court.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Intelligence from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has led to the Philippine National Police (PNP) rescuing 16 children.
  • The children were rescued as a result of an international child protection investigation after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers scrutinized a man’s baggage at Sydney Airport.
  • The 56-year-old man was returning from the Philippines.
  • Upon investigating the man’s belongings, ABF officers found child abuse material.
  • Authorities also found messages signaling the man’s intent to pay an individual allowing him to sexually abuse children in the Philippines.
  • The information was shared with the PNP, leading to the discovery of 16 children, the youngest of which was 10 years old.
STATEMENT FROM AUTHORITIES:
  • “This case highlights how vital it is for law enforcement agencies to share intelligence and resources globally, because predators are not confined by borders,” AFP Senior Officer in Manila and Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins said.
  • “This is a record number of children rescued in a single operation and we are grateful to be able to support the efforts of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre to remove these children from harm,” the statement continued.
  • Perkins noted that the children’s lives have been “irrecoverably damaged,” although authorities will “never give up [their] fight to keep children safe and stop those who try to exploit or abuse them.”
  • ABF Superintendent Phillip Anderson said protecting the Australian border is critical for keeping communities safe.
  • “Results like we see today highlight the importance of the work our officers conduct at the border alongside our partners, and also sends a very strong message to those who try to engage in this atrocious behaviour,” Anderson said. “Our message is very simple – anyone committing this illegal activity can expect to be detected by the ABF and its partners, and to face the full legal consequences for their vile actions.”
  • Police Colonel Portia Manalad, Chief of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Centre, reiterated that collaboration with “international partners” is imperative in order to “arrest offenders and rescue child victims.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Since 2021, an investigation into “ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking” has been underway in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County between the years 1990 and 2010.
  • “We are pleading with the public and encourage victims, or individuals with knowledge of these crimes, to contact the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit so that they can be offered all the assistance possible,” the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said in 2022.
  • “We understand that there are individuals who have concerns for their safety and/or well-being, who have been silenced. We need your help,” the statement continued.
  • Utah County Attorney David Leavitt denied that such activities were occurring after he and his wife were named in the investigation.

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