AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have disrupted a major network of online child predators after they arrested 21 people around the country this week.
A 26-year-old Caboolture man was among four people arrested in Queensland.
Eight people were arrested in New South Wales, five in Victoria, two in Western Australia and one each in the Northern Territory and the ACT, with the alleged offenders aged between 22 and 76 and offences ranging from producing, accessing, transmitting and making available child exploitation material.
Police said they were expecting to make as many as six further arrests.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Conqueror, began in January when the AFP identified a number of people using a peer-to-peer file sharing network with images depicting children of various ages, including some under 10, being sexually abused.
A total of 36 search warrants were executed in every state and territory, with AFP and state and territory officers seizing hundreds of thousands of images and videos depicting online child sexual exploitation.
One of the children depicted in the images who police said was known to one of the alleged offenders was taken into protective custody.
At one property police seized 26 hard drives thought to contain child exploitation material.
AFP Cyber Crime Operations manager Commander Glen McEwen said the material seized was "abhorrent and personally disgusting".
He said the AFP would continue to work relentlessly to prevent further distribution of such material.
"Tackling this heinous crime is a key focus for the AFP, and law enforcement agencies across the nation and the globe," Comm McEwen said.
"This operation shows that the internet is not anonymous, and if you are involved or choose to groom children online, or be involved in the production, distribution or access of inline child abuse, you will be pursued.
"Every image is a crime scene. Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused."
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