Four men have been arrested across the country in the past month following separate investigations into the sharing of child exploitation material.
A 20-year-old Auckland man was arrested by investigators from customs’ child exploitation operations team (CEOT) on Friday morning after being linked to exporting and distributing child sexual exploitation material on at least five occasions since July 2021, Customs New Zealand said in a statement.
He is scheduled to appear in the Manukau District Court on Friday afternoon on charges of knowingly exporting and distributing objectionable publications. It carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.
In addition, two men were arrested in Christchurch last week.
A Merivale man, 58, was arrested on October 7 following reports from overseas authorities after a social media platform and cloud storage site reported him for allegedly uploading child exploitation material. He is charged with possessing and knowingly exporting objectionable publications.
A 38-year-old Rolleston man was arrested the following day after being reported by a social media platform for allegedly uploading child exploitation material to their site. He is charged with possessing and knowingly exporting objectionable publications.
A 50-year-old man in Northland was arrested on September 23 after allegedly sharing child sexual exploitation publications through an overseas social media platform, and possessing objectionable publications.
He has since been charged with possessing and knowingly exporting objectionable publications.
Chief customs officer in the child exploitation operations team Simon Peterson says the arrests serve as a warning to those who exploit and re-victimise children by sharing images or videos of their abuse across New Zealand’s borders.
“Child sexual exploitation publications are the consequence of the very real and distressing exploitation and sexual abuse of children,” he said.
“Customs has been working tirelessly during this lockdown, with partners in the police and Department of Internal Affairs, to track down offenders who prey on children in this way and hold them to account, even with Covid-19 restrictions in place.”