The FBI and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced yesterday the arrests of at least 98 people in the US and Australia as part of a sweeping joint child sex abuse probe launched two years ago after two FBI agents were killed while pursuing a suspect after uncovering a sex abuse ring.
Special agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were fatally shot in 2021 and three other agents were wounded while serving a search warrant for suspect David Lee Huber in Florida which evolved into a firefight after which Huber killed himself.
The arrested 79 Americans and 19 Australians are all facing charges linked to an alleged child abuse ring spanning multiple countries. As a result of the so-called ‘Operation Bakis’, at least 13 children were removed from harm’s way.
According to AFP Commander Helen Schneider, most of the Australian suspects, two of which have already been convicted, managed to evade detection since they worked in occupations that require a high degree of knowledge about online networks.
FBI legal attaché Nitiana Mann confirmed another 43 convictions in the US, adding that the suspects, some believed to have committed offenses for over a decade, used software to anonymously share files and operated technologically sophisticated online child abuse network on the dark web.
She noted that the FBI had alerted the authorities in other countries- though did not name them – about suspects within their jurisdictions, adding that future arrests should not be ruled out.