Stock Image. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:21 PM – Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Following a years-long American and Australian-led FBI investigation that resulted in the deaths of two American special agents, 19 individuals have now been charged with sex crimes in Australia.
On Tuesday, authorities reported that 19 males, between the ages of 32 and 81, were successfully detained and charged with a total of 138 charges in connection with an international pedophile network.
“We will allege that these men were members of a technologically sophisticated online child abuse network that was operating across the country,” said Australian Federal Police Commander Helen Schneider.
13 children were rescued during the operation, but the victims’ health and injuries have not been made public.
Australian officials say that two of the arrested individuals have already been convicted and sentenced, thanks to the joint effort. Those found guilty now reportedly face up to at least 15 years in the Australian Capital Territory and five years in New South Wales.
The Australian probe was initially launched in the aftermath of a deadly shootout in 2021 between FBI agents and an American suspect in Florida.
Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, FBI special agents in Florida who were investigating a suspected pedophile named David Lee Huber, were killed by automatic gunfire on the doorstep of his Miami home in February 2021. They were preparing to carry out a search warrant seeking evidence of child sexual abuse.
Huber, 55, an IT employee and the one who pulled the trigger, is believed to have observed the FBI agents through his doorbell video and then fired his assault rifle through the door. Reports say that Huber killed himself soon after.
The FBI’s investigation into Alfin and Schwartzenberger’s findings did not end after their demise, and in early 2022, the FBI discovered Huber was part of a much larger child abuse network that authorities were able to track to the Land Down Under.
Operation Bakis, conducted by the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) anti-child exploitation unit, was formed to dismantle dark-web networks where individuals exchange and film their own child abuse material.
“Members used software to anonymously share files, chat on message boards, and access websites within the network,” the AFP said in a statement.
Among the 16,000 files recovered on the man’s hard drive displayed around 800 child victims, as well as a “pedophiles handbook” on how to talk to authorities.
“On Tuesday, we lost not one of our own, but two,” Wray said at the funeral services. “Two warriors who took on one of the hardest jobs in the FBI, crimes against children. Two best friends who shared the same passion, the same determination, and—in spite of all they had witnessed in their extraordinary careers—the same sense of optimism and hope that comes from work that matters.”
FBI agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger were honored on February 6, 2021 (Photo via the Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI)
In 2007, Schwartzenberger became the FBI’s first and only female SWAT squad member in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2010, she relocated to Miami to join the violent crimes against children team.
“It was here, in Miami, that she found her true calling—keeping kids safe. Laura chose to be part of a team that spends their days in darkness, confronting the very worst parts of humanity,” Wray said. “It’s a job with high stress, high emotional toll, and high burnout. But Laura never stopped.”
Alfin had been working for the FBI for almost a decade and had worked on cases involving crimes against children for the last six years.
In 2017, he was a member of the team that brought down what was thought to be the world’s largest child pornography website, resulting in the identification and rescue of 296 sexually abused children and the arrest of 548 criminals throughout the globe.
“It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them,” Alfin said back in 2017. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”
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