A Newcastle man has become the 15th person arrested after police uncovered a global paedophile ring alleged to have filmed and shared in the sexual abuse of almost 50 children in Australia.
The 54-year-old was taken into custody on Friday after he was identified as an alleged member of the group.
He faces a string of charges, including possessing, soliciting and sharing child abused material, and bestiality – offences which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
The man is due to appear before Newcastle Local Court on Saturday.
A childcare worker, a volunteer soccer coach and a disability support worker are among others arrested during Operation Arkstone since February.
The men, aged between 20 and 54, from NSW, Queensland and Western Australia are accused of preying on 46 children between the ages of 16 months and 15 years to produce and upload abusive material to a range of online platforms.
More than 140 criminal matters have been referred back to police in Europe, Asia, Canada and New Zealand during the investigation, as well as 18 to the United States where three arrests have been made.
Australian investigators have now laid more than 800 charges and have not ruled out further arrests.
‘No stone unturned’
“Our investigators are leaving no stone unturned,” AFP Detective Superintendent Ben McQuillan said in a statement.
“They are continuing to examine every piece of evidence seized throughout Operation Arkstone to identify and arrest more alleged members of this online network of child sex offenders.
“Sadly, we have not ruled out the possibility of discovering more child victims to be saved from further abuse.”
Anyone with information about the network is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.