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500 implicated in Australian porn raids
(Agencies)
Updated: 2004-10-01 14:55

Police have information on more than 500 Australians who access child porn and more arrests are likely, Australia's police chief said Friday, a day after announcing the country's largest ever crackdown on the industry.

Over the past week Australian police have seized computers holding more than 2 million images of child pornography -- including some of children as young as 2 years -- and have arrested more than 150 Australians.

Teachers, a police officer, the owner of three child-care centers and an assistant to a state politician were among those charged with about 2,000 child pornography offenses.

``This operation has provided us (with) information in the order of in excess of 500 Australians accessing the material,'' Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said Friday. ``It's almost certain that there will be further arrests.''

A worldwide investigation, spearheaded by the US Customs service and involving Interpol, spawned the raids in Australia, Keelty said.

The police have specific information about Australians who download child porn, including names, addresses, credit card details and what they download, said Kyle Hutchins, the US agent in charge of the American operation.

``You just don't believe what you are seeing,'' Hutchins told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. ``You cannot believe what is being sold out there. Then you get absolutely disgusted by what you see.''

So far 55 people have been arrested in the northeastern state of Queensland, 42 in New South Wales state, 21 in Western Australia state, nine in the Northern Territory and seven in South Australia state. Further arrests were made in Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Two school teachers, a serving police officer, and an employee of a state politician were among those arrested in Western Australia, police said.

They have been charged with offenses including possession of child pornography, supplying child pornography and the indecent recording of a child.

Scott Thompson, the owner of three child care centers in the southeastern city of Melbourne, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, police said.

Penalties for child sex abuse charges can range from fines to 10 years in jail, depending on the state where the offenses occurred.