A 51-year-old Hamilton man, who returned from an overseas holiday last week, has been arrested and charged with importing child sexual abuse publications.
He appeared in the Hamilton District Court last Friday afternoon (28 June), and further charges are likely.
The man was questioned and searched by Customs officers on arrival at Auckland Airport last Wednesday (26 June) after spending three weeks in Thailand. A search of his USB storage device and tablet located evidence of child sexual abuse images. A search of his home later that day also located a large number of child sexual abuse images and videos.
Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says Customs takes child protection very seriously and actively targets the cross-border movement of child sexual exploitation material – whether it’s physically importing or carrying material across our border, or sharing images and videos across our cyber border.
“Child exploitation is a significant and growing threat to New Zealand, due to the increasing use of the dark web, live-streaming and cybersex trafficking, as well as an increase in the number of sex offenders who are travelling.”
“Customs has a small but dedicated team of specialist investigators and forensic experts working to combat these horrendous crimes, and additional investment in Budget 2019 will further strengthen Customs’ ability to identify and respond to child exploitation.”
“It is important to understand this is not a victimless crime – the trade of child sexual exploitation material directly correlates to increased risks of physical abuse. And each image or video is actually a crime scene of children being exploited and abused,” says Mr Berry.
Budget 2019 allocated $10.2 M, over four years, to Customs to enhance its services to combat child sexual exploitation across New Zealand’s cyber and physical borders. In 2019, a total of eleven individuals have been arrested or charged by Customs for such crimes.