What You Need to Know:
American and Australian authorities have announced that 98 suspects have been arrested in connection to a global pedophile ring, which was uncovered following the 2021 murder of two FBI agents in Sunrise, Florida.
How it Started:
On February 2, 2021, FBI agents arrived at the home of David Lee Huber to execute a warrant in relation to a child pornography case. As the agents gathered at the front door, Huber opened fire on them with a rifle. Agent Laura Schwartzenberger was shot and killed instantly and agent Daniel Alfin, who was able to return fire, was mortally wounded. Three other agents were also wounded in the shooting as Huber barricaded himself inside the home. After a several hour long standoff with Huber, he was found dead with a self inflicted gunshot wound.
The shooting and subsequent investigation into Huber’s computer unveiled a broader child pornography network with ties to Australia. In a joint operation with the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), authorities were able to arrest 98 suspects (79 Americans and 19 Australians) and rescue 13 Australian children from harm.
In a statement, the AFP said “The success of Operation Bakis was only possible because of the close working relationship between the AFP-led ACCCE and the FBI, and our dedicated personnel who never give up working to identify children who are being sexually assaulted or living with someone who is sharing child abuse material.”
“Criminals using encryption and the dark web are a challenge for law enforcement, but Operation Bakis shows that when we work together we can bring alleged offenders before the courts… The success of Operation Bakis demonstrates the importance of partnerships for law enforcement, at a national level here in Australia, but also at an international level.”
The AFP noted that “Most of the alleged Australian offenders, some who are also accused of having produced their own child abuse material to share with other members of the network, were employed in occupations that required a high degree of ICT knowledge,” adding that “Members used software to anonymously share files, chat on message boards and access websites within the network.”
Likewise, the AFP said that “Network members were able to search for and distribute images and videos of child abuse material and allegedly used encryption and other methods to avoid law enforcement detection,” however, AFP said “Criminals using encryption and the dark web are a challenge for law enforcement, but Operation Bakis shows that when we work together we can bring alleged offenders before the courts.”