Secret ‘dark net’ operation saves scores of children from abuse; ringleader Shannon McCoole behind bars after police take over child porn site

Scores of children have been saved from abuse after an elaborate sting by Queensland Police led to the identification and arrest of key members of a global online sex abuse network.

The 10-month operation led to the arrests of members in Australia and around the world.

Key points

Investigators say it identified and saved “potentially hundreds” of children who were being abused.

Queensland’s anti-paedophile taskforce Argos targeted an internet bulletin board which had 45,000 members.

Users were ranked according to the volume and originality of the child exploitation material they uploaded to the site.

The board was hosted on the part of the internet known as the “dark net”, which uses encryption software to hide identities and mask people’s browsing history.

The site, the name of which remains suppressed by the South Australian District Court, was administered by an anonymous Australian.

He was later unmasked as Adelaide childcare worker Shannon McCoole.

This month, the Families SA employee wassentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually abusing at least seven children in his care and for transmitting child pornography on the internet.

McCoole’s victims were in state care, and were as young as 18 months old. The oldest was three. The sentencing judge at McCoole’s trial described him as “evil and depraved”.

He shared images and videos of his abuse of children on the site he administered.

McCoole was arrested last year after a manhunt that involved law enforcement agencies around the world.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-26/secret-anti-paedophile-operation-saves-children-from-abuse/6720304