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Operation Walwa: Inside accused paedophile’s Maryborough bush lair

This is the remote bush hideaway of one of the 16 Australians arrested as part of an alleged child sex ring which produced and shared photos and videos of kids being raped. 

The Australian Federal Police on Monday released footage of the moment detectives swooped on an alleged paedophile’s squalid dwelling in Maryborough, north of Gympie, Queensland.

Video shows a shirtless man being arrested at his squalid bush home, which consists of a caravan, two converted shipping containers and piles of tyres. He was charged with three counts of possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to possess child porn.

Police photographs give an insight into the man’s living arrangements – with a case of cask wine plonked next to a filthy couch, and a rifle piled up among rusted electrical appliances. He was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

Accused paedophile’s lair: The arrested man was living on a remote bush camp which consisted of a caravan and two shipping containers. Furniture, cask wine and a breakfast bar in one such container is seen above

Search warrant: A police officer strolls past an overturned laundry basket to peek inside one of the two shipping containers located on the property

Search warrant: A police officer strolls past an overturned laundry basket to peek inside one of the two shipping containers located on the property

A rifle butt, wetsuit material and couch cushions were among some of the loose ends police found piled up on the filthy bush camp

A rifle butt, wetsuit material and couch cushions were among some of the loose ends police found piled up on the filthy bush camp

A general view of the property: Video released on Monday showed Queensland Police swooped on the property in Maryborough, north of Gympie, arresting the man

A general view of the property: Video released on Monday showed Queensland Police swooped on the property in Maryborough, north of Gympie, arresting the man

The investigation followed a tip-off from US authorities that sick videos and pictures of children being exploited were being produced in Australia and distributed on a dark web marketplace.

The nationwide operation led to police saving four local children from further harm. Three of the alleged victims were from New South Wales and one was from Victoria. One was just two-months-old.

The 16 people arrested were charged with a total of 728 sexual abuse and child exploitation offences.

Five people from Queensland were charged – each with possessing and producing child abuse material and using a carriage service to those ends. 

An additional four people were arrested from Western Australia, three each from Victoria and New South Wales, and one in South Australia.  

Daily Mail Australia has sought further details of the camp dweller’s man’s alleged offences from the Queensland Police Service’s State Crime Command.

Footage showed the man putting his shirt on as gloved officers raided his remote bush camp

Footage showed the man putting his shirt on as gloved officers raided his remote bush camp

All of the 16 people who were arrested were charged with contact offending and producing and exchanging child sex material through the internet

All of the 16 people who were arrested were charged with contact offending and producing and exchanging child sex material through the internet

Other raids targeting the child sex abuse ring focused on more upmarket dwellings, including a home office (above) in Leumeah, south-west of Sydney

Other raids targeting the child sex abuse ring focused on more upmarket dwellings, including a home office (above) in Leumeah, south-west of Sydney 

An Australian police officer carries away evidence bags with a US Homeland Security officer during a separate, related raid

An Australian police officer carries away evidence bags with a US Homeland Security officer during a separate, related raid

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has warned the coronavirus lockdown had created a surge in activity on the dark web, including grooming and live-streaming.

16 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN CHILD ABUSE RING

Sixteen Australians were charged with 738 child exploitation offences as a result of a two-year investigation by Australian police and the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit. 

US agents working out of Phoenix, Arizona, had tipped of Australian police to an illicit online marketplace where users paid for access to child abuse material. 

Under Operation Walwa – the details of which were released on Monday – Australian police revealed officers have charged: 

Five people in Queensland

Four in Western Australia

Three in Victoria

Three in New South Wales 

One person in South Australia 

He has urged parents to be hyper aware of what their children are doing online at all times. 

‘It is very hard to explain to a society, to people who don’t see the images,’ he told The Australian newspaper. ‘These involve images like you’ve never seen before.’

Homeland Security Australia attaché Adam Parks said the arrests came at a critical time.

‘More so than ever, children are increasingly online for their schooling, to socialize with their friends and family, and to play games,’ Mr Parks said.

‘Let this be a warning that law enforcement is undeterred by COVID-19 and remains on-duty to keep our children safe in Australia, the US, and online.’   

Homeland Security officers in Phoenix, Arizona first notified the Australian Federal Police and Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation of increased illegal online activity in the country in 2018, leading police to launch Operation Walwa. 

The online paedophile networks are difficult for law enforcement to monitor due to the sophisticated encryption software used to shield their illegal activity.

Peter Dutton said tech companies who do not cooperate with police to grant encryption technologies to investigators could become subject to legislation

Peter Dutton said tech companies who do not cooperate with police to grant encryption technologies to investigators could become subject to legislation

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told The Australian there had been an increase in people looking to access explicit online material during the coronavirus pandemic. 

‘We have had increasing ­reports of people seeking to exploit the increased amount of screen time children will be spending online during the current climate, to gain access to and abuse children,’ he told the newspaper. 

Mr Dutton hit out at tech companies who had refused to grant detectives access to encryption technologies to aid the investigation. He said they could become subject to legislation to force their assistance. 

Australian police receive nearly 20,000 referrals related to online child sexual abuse every year. 

The 16 people charged will face court over various charges in the coming months.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk