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Police infiltrate NZ paedophile ring, saving four children

Police infiltrate New Zealand paedophile ring, saving four children

Police across the country have smashed an alleged paedophile ring, saving four children from further abuse and making 35 referrals to overseas jurisdictions.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, head of OCEANZ, part of the National Criminal Investigations Group, says a Police operation began in July last year involving staff across the country including Northland, Auckland City, Eastern, Canterbury and Southern Districts. The operation targeted paedophiles both in New Zealand and overseas.

"This morning, 41 year old Aaron John Ellmers has appeared in the Hastings District Court, pleading guilty to around 60 charges including sexual violation of children, stupefying, making an intimate visual recording, dealing in people for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual conduct with a child under 12."

He was remanded in custody to appear in the High Court at Hastings for sentencing in May 2013.

Two other New Zealand men, one in Canterbury and the other in Auckland, are also before the Courts facing various charges including sexual violation of children and making, possessing and distributing child abuse images.

D/S/S John Michael says as a result of the Police operation, four New Zealand children, ranging in age from 13 months to 13 years have been saved from further abuse. Police have also made 35 referrals to a number of Virtual Global Taskforce members including Australia, the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada.

"This offending is like a spider web which has got wider and wider, involving offenders both here and overseas. Those facing charges have allegedly abused children, recorded that abuse and distributed it amongst themselves and overseas."

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Greig, head of the Eastern District Child Protection Team says the Hawke's Bay-based investigators are grateful for today's guilty pleas, which will spare a number of very young victims and their families the indignity and trauma of the trial process.

D/S/S Greig is praising the work of OCEANZ staff, who had become aware of the offending initially.

"OCEANZ then collaborated with our District and our local staff assigned to this case have worked extremely hard over a number of months to identify the victims of this man's offending and fully investigate the extent of it."

He says this enquiry has presented significant challenges for local staff.

"None of us have been left untouched by the nature and depravity of this man's offending which has wreaked havoc on so many lives. It is heartening to know that the children involved have been saved from further offending and can now start to receive the support they need to put their lives back together."

D/S/S John Michael says paedophiles should not be fooled into thinking that the internet is an anonymous place where their despicable offending can occur undetected.

"Whilst paedophiles think the internet is their playground, it is the hunting ground for Police. We are always building our capability and capacity and we will continue to infiltrate these offenders, both here and overseas."

John Michael says, "Child victims almost always know their offenders, who have gained their trust and that of their parents, before the offending occurs. We urge parents and caregivers to be alert to the signs of this kind of abuse, but not alarmed."

"Parents should trust their instincts and if they have any concerns about any adult's behaviour or disturbing images found on any computers, call us or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111," says John Michael.

ENDS

The work of OCEANZ:

Since OCEANZ (Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand) was established in 2009, a total of 38 New Zealand children have been rescued from abuse, and 57 children have been safeguarded from physical abuse and/or from further online offences.

A further 15 children have been rescued overseas and 6 safeguarded from further abuse, through the investigative work of OCEANZ.

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