Sunday, June 16, 2024

Customs arrest Wellington man over online child exploitation

Customs has arrested a Wellington man for his alleged involvement in the online exploitation of children.

The 23-year-old, who appeared in Porirua District Court on Wednesday, faces one charge each of exporting, distributing and possessing objectionable publications. These charges carry maximum penalties of between 10 years and 14 years imprisonment. 

Customs was notified by the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a number of objectionable video files a New Zealander had uploaded to social media. Customs’ investigations identified the man and carried out a search warrant at his home address in Porirua on 7 November.

Customs electronic forensic investigators, who were also onsite, conducted an initial analysis of his phone which confirmed he had shared multiple videos of child sexual abuse to other users on social media and messaging platforms, Customs said in a statement.

Acting Chief Customs Officer – Child Exploitation Operations Team, Kesta Dennison says Customs is increasingly seeing “alleged offenders such as this man, continuing to act with complete disregard to the victims of child sexual exploitation, and the impacts it has on their own families, who are often completely unaware of their online activities”. 

Customs has a specialist team who work with international and domestic partners to identify and safeguard potential victims, and hunt down offenders.  

“Customs’ technological capability and investigative expertise should send a clear warning to online predators – our investigators will find you, and we will stop you,” Ms Dennison said. 

If you have concerns or suspicions about someone who may be trading in or producing child sexual abuse images or videos, contact Customs confidentially on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you are, or know of, someone who is at risk or being abused, contact the Police immediately. 

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