A police officer has made an impassioned plea as authorities cracked one of Australia’s biggest child sex rings.
Federal and NSW police arrested two men, aged 21 and 26, at Kendall and Old Bar on the NSW mid-north coast on Thursday.
The men are alleged to have violently raped at least eight boys aged between four and seven.
They are also accused of sharing videos of the attacks via the dark web.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale told reporters on Friday police believe they’ve cracked: “the biggest domestic child exploitation network uncovered in recent times”.
She also made a plea to parents.
“Today I plead - I plead to the parents who are listening here now, many who cannot bear to hear this type of offering, please do not walk away from your television, please do not turn the volume down,” Comm Gale said.
“Please turn the volume up. We need you to listen, we need you to be vigilant. Child exploitation in Australia is becoming more prolific. The victims are getting younger and younger. This type of offending is becoming more violent and brazen.”
She added the Australian Federal Police don’t want to have to tell parents their child is the victim of sexual abuse or exploitation.
“But this is not the case for the parents and guardians of up to 14 young victims identified through Operation Arc Stone,” she said.
“There could be more, and we believe that there are. We are painstakingly reviewing material.”
The child sex ring was operating in the same NSW town, Kendall, where William Tyrrell mysteriously disappeared in 2014.
A NSW Police spokesman said the child sex ring arrests are not believed to be related to William Tyrell's disappearance at this stage.
Comm Gale said while the cases were not believed to be linked, she was unable to say if the men were in the town of 1000 people when William went missing.
The two men, who face child exploitation and child harm charges, appeared in Kempsey Magistrates Court on Friday.
It's alleged that some of their victims were family members.
Police have uncovered evidence that the men's alleged offending began in 2018, but it may have started earlier.
One of the men previously worked at a child care centre in the Kendall area but left his position in 2018.
Neither had a criminal record before they were arrested.
Arrests part of larger national operation
The arrests are part of a broader national operation with previous arrests in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.
In total, nine men aged in their 20s have been arrested in relation to the child abuse that was filmed, photographed and shared online.
Six are from NSW, one is from Hervey Bay in Queensland, and one is from Western Australia.
They all remain before the courts.
The Hervey Bay man was arrested in April.
Comm Gale said officers have followed the "breadcrumbs" since.
One Sydney man charged is understood to be a soccer coach.
Comm Gale said the men's alleged offending and evidence gathered had shaken some of the AFP's most seasoned officers.
She said some of the alleged offenders knew each other outside the online child sex ring.
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