The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Te Tari Taiwhenua and the Australian Federal Police celebrate cross-agency collaboration

22 September 2022

Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and the Australian Federal Police’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) celebrated their close collaboration with a visit by Lesa Gale, Acting Deputy Commissioner Operations for the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gale visited DIA on 21 September and presented a plaque to acknowledge the Department for leading a major international child protection operation and to recognise a recent international secondment from DIA to the ACCCE.

Earlier this year, DIA announced the completion of Operation H, the largest investigation into online child exploitation to ever be led out of New Zealand. DIA worked closely with several international law enforcement agencies, including the ACCCE, where the operation was known locally as Operation Molto.

As part of the operation, DIA identified over 90,000 online accounts that possessed or traded in horrific child sexual abuse material and safeguarded 146 children internationally, including 6 in New Zealand and 44 in Australia.

Tim Houston, Manager Digital Child Exploitation Team at DIA, highlighted the importance of collaborating with international partners when working to dismantle networks that seek to exploit children.

“I greatly value the cross-agency collaboration between DIA and the ACCCE, and the dedication and hard work of the investigators who work in both countries. Their commitment enables us to identify and safeguard child victims from anyone who distributes, makes and possesses child sexual abuse material. I look forward to continuing to enhance and strengthen this partnership”.

In August, an investigator from DIA’s Digital Child Exploitation Team completed an eight-week secondment to the ACCCE to share operating practices and mentor covert online members. The secondment was highly valuable and allowed investigators to identify a New Zealand man sharing child sexual abuse material on dark net websites.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Lesa Gale said the hard-work, diligence and cooperation of investigators from law enforcement around the globe should be recognised.

"The success of Operation Molto / Operation H demonstrates the importance of partnerships for law enforcement at an international level, with our colleagues in New Zealand and around the world.

“It takes a network to break a network, which is why we will continue to strengthen the ties we have with our partners in Australia and overseas, to work together to combat this horrendous crime type.

"Viewing, distributing or producing child abuse material is a horrific crime. Children are not commodities and the AFP and its partner agencies work around-the-clock to identify and prosecute offenders.”