This is an excerpt of an article in today's (20th April) edition of The Australian.
Global Sting - Police bust ‘horrific’ child sex abuse ring spread across five states.
A global child exploitation sting triggered by a US Department of Homeland Security investigation has rescued four Australian children as young as two months old who were used to produce and exchange child rape videos and images through online pedophile networks around the world.
In one of the largest joint operations in the country — led by the Australian Federal Police and spread across five states — 16 people have been charged with 728 child exploitation and sexual abuse offences following a two-year investigation into the online exchange of child pornography.
The arrests come as AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw warned of a spike in traffic across the so-called dark web — including live-streaming and incidents of child sexual abuse and child grooming — since the outbreak of the coronavirus, prompting a call for parents to strictly monitor their children’s online activity during the lockdown.
The Australian understands that the four children were aged between two months and eight years and are believed to be related to those who had sexually abused them and then exchanged the graphic images through highly encrypted web forums...
The two-year investigation was prompted by a US Homeland Security covert operation into encrypted dark nets that operate through virtually untraceable networks on the web and cannot be accessed without specific software, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to hunt down offenders.
Homeland Security officers in Phoenix, Arizona, had uncovered activity in Australia and channelled the intelligence to the AFP through the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, which was set up in 2018 as part of global investigations into the rise in dark web child exploitation.
Mr Kershaw said there had been a spike in activity since the strict COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions were put in place around the world, adding that the dark web had recently become “congested”.
The Australian is our national daily and is behind a paywall, but I will include the link for reference.