A Korean national living in Sydney has been charged with possessing child abuse material following a joint investigation with the Korean National Police Agency.
Operation Inverloch was launched in August 2022 following a report from INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) Seoul regarding several children who had reported to Korean police they were being groomed and blackmailed on social media and messaging applications.
Inquiries by INTERPOL NCB Seoul and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) triage unit linked the social media accounts allegedly involved to a man living in Sydney’s north-western suburbs.
Investigators from the AFP Child Protection Operations team, accompanied by officers from the Korean National Police Agency, executed a search warrant at the man’s Thornleigh home yesterday (23 November 2022) where he was arrested.
A mobile phone was seized and a forensic analysis of that device is underway. Further charges have not been ruled out.
Acting Inspector Navi Pandher said without the courage of the victims in Korea, the offender could have continued targeting more children.
“Victims often don’t report these crimes because they feel ashamed or embarrassed by a predator who has exploited their trust and threatened to release private images.” Acting Inspector Pandher.
“If you are a victim – it is not your fault, and we will do everything we can to catch these offenders. If you have been targeted, please come forward so we can catch the people involved and prevent further harm.
“Would-be offenders need to know that the AFP has strong, well-developed working relationships around the world. International borders won’t stop us from pursuing you to the full extent of the law.”
Inspector Kim Do-hyung, head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police’s investigation team, will actively cooperate with AFP so that the suspect can be punished to the full extent the laws of Korea and Australia.
Kim Do-hyung also said, “With this matter, we further strengthen the cooperative relationship between the police of our two countries so that cyber sexual violence crimes, especially targeting children and adolescents, will not be tolerated, even in cyberspace.”
The AFP will continue to work closely with the Korean National Police to identify the victims depicted in the child abuse material.
The man, 27, was taken to Hornsby Police Station where he was charged with:
- two counts of possessing child abuse material obtained through a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
- one count of failing to comply with a section 3LA Order, contrary to section 3LA(6) of Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
The man was refused bail and will appear before Hornsby Local Court on 18 January 2023.