West News Wire: According to authorities in both countries, at least 98 persons have been detained in the US and Australia as part of an extensive child sex abuse investigation. The probe was started following the 2021 shooting deaths of two US government officers who were seeking a suspect.

During a joint news conference on Tuesday, the FBI and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed the arrests. They noted that 19 persons in Australia and an additional 79 people in the US are now in custody and are all charged with participating in an alleged international child abuse ring. 

AFP Commander Helen Schneider said the suspects operated a “technologically sophisticated online child abuse network” on the dark web and “used software to anonymously share files,” with some believed to have committed offenses for more than a decade. She added that most of the Australian suspects worked in occupations that require a “high degree” of knowledge about online networks, helping them to evade detection. 

Schneider claims that two of the Australian males have already been found guilty, and FBI legal attache Nitiana Mann claims that there have been additional 43 convictions in the US. The investigation led to the removal of at least 13 kids from danger. 

This procedure was quite difficult. No agency or nation can combat these dangers alone due to the intricacy and secrecy of these platforms, according to Mann, who also noted that the FBI had informed authorities in other nations about suspects within their borders but did not specifically name any. 

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The sex abuse ring was first uncovered by the FBI in 2021, after special agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were fatally shot while serving a search warrant for suspect David Lee Huber in Florida. Three other agents were wounded in the firefight, after which Huber took his own life.

Evidence gathered following the deadly shootout would later tip off the bureau to a wider pedophile network beyond US borders, with the FBI passing intelligence about potential Australian members to the AFP last year. Dubbed ‘Operation Bakis’, the resulting joint probe is ongoing, and Schneider noted that future arrests should not be ruled out. 

According to Mann, more than 200 international leads were sent to third countries throughout the operation, while over 300 separate child sex abuse investigations have been launched as a result. 


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