Police have charged 15 people with a total of 45 offences following a months long operation targeting sex criminals preying on children via online chat forums.
Police have charged 15 people with a total of 45 offences following a months long operation targeting sex criminals preying on children via online chat forums.

Cops lay 45 charges against 15 alleged sex criminals

POLICE have charged 15 people with a total of 45 offences following a months long operation targeting sex criminals preying on Territory children via online chat platforms.

During Operation May, police executed 19 search warrants between January and March throughout the NT and Queensland, as well as successfully extraditing a 52-year-old man from Western Australia.

In a sting conducted as a part of the bust, officers posed as a 12-year-old girl who engaged with a 28-year-old man online before arranging to meet up.

The investigators tracked the man while using an undercover operative as a decoy and arrested him when he showed up at the arranged location.

He and the other men, aged between 21 and 52 were charged with offences including using the internet to procure a child, using a carriage service to transmit child abuse images and indecent dealing with a child under 10.

The offences were allegedly committed against four girls in the NT aged between 5 and 8.

NT Police Acting Commander Lauren Hill said the joint operation with Queensland Police and the Australian Federal Police was the first time such a large scale raid focusing on the NT had been undertaken.

"Police had identified an investigation in the Tennant Creek area and a result of examination of devices held by that person allowed us to conduct some intelligence and assessment and from that assessment we rolled with the operation," she said.

Cmdr Hill warned parents that any of the online platforms children had access to could be harbouring "predators on the other side".

"We would encourage parents to know what they're children are doing in relation to online," she said.

"Who they're engaging with online, where their chat conversations are, what gaming platforms they're accessing and potentially using any security enhancements that are available on their own devices."

AFP Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said the operation was another example of Australian law enforcement's dedication to working hand-in-hand to protect children and ensure predators were detected and prosecuted.

"This is also a warning to any adult who wants to prey on children online," she said.

"You may not be talking to a vulnerable child, you could be talking to a police officer."

Detective Sergeant Paul Lawson said the alleged offences and the potential for further offending by the perpetrators was "horrific".

Stopping the abhorrent intentions of people like them, drives officers within the joint operation every day to rid our society of this type of offending," he said.

Originally published as Cops lay 45 charges against 15 alleged sex criminals preying on NT kids



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