A total of 29 people were arrested, including two West Australian men and one Sydney man who was arrested by the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok.The investigation turned up hundreds of thousands of images and videos depicting online child sexual exploitation, including children as young as six.Three Australians were part of a webcam ring which allowed paedophiles to pay to watch children as young as six being sexually abused in the Philippines.The crime ring has been dismantled after a joint investigation by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).The Australians allegedly financed and ordered the child exploitation shows, which were organised by an organised crime group in the Philippines.One of the Australians, a 53-year-old from West Perth, was sentenced in October 2013 to 24 months in jail with a minimum term of 12 months."It's abhorrent that these crimes occur and it is our duty as police and the wider community to ensure that every possible measure is taken to identify and assist the victims and to identify and take action against the perpetrators."ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executive associate director James Dinkins says the children were "rescued from a living nightmare"."The group responsible for these heinous crimes mistakenly believed that they could use technology to avoid detection, but they were wrong," he said.
Of the 29 people arrested, 11 were part of the facilitation group in the Philippines.The investigation began after British police carried out a routine visit at the home of registered sex offender Timothy Ford.Police found a number of child exploitation videos on computers in his home, sparking a global investigation which led police to the Philippines.Some of the facilitators were members of the children's own families.AFP Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris has described the crimes as "abhorrent"."The use of online media to drive these types of crimes is a sinister development," he said in a statement."To target the most vulnerable members of the community in this way cannot be tolerated in any society.
The AFP and other organisations were contacted for help in August 2012.