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Customs warns online child exploitation offenders

Customs is warning tech-savvy online offenders they will be caught, with three men arrested in separate stings across the country this month for trading child exploitation material.

Customs investigators identified and arrested a 29-year-old Taranaki man in mid-April after receiving an international referral that a New Zealander had uploaded child exploitation material onto a popular social networking site. He is charged with knowingly exporting and distributing objectionable publications, and faces a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment.

A 23-year-old man was similarly identified and arrested in Auckland after an international referral that someone had uploaded a large number of child exploitation material to a popular image-hosting site. He is also charged with knowingly exporting objectionable publications, with further charges likely after forensic examination of his electronic devices.

Last week a 22-year-old man was located and arrested in Dunedin, after a popular social messaging application reported he was sending child exploitation material to other users. He’s charged with knowingly exporting objectionable publications, with more charges likely.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says offenders should beware the use of web-based or social media apps doesn’t guarantee them anonymity as there’s a global network of organisations and law enforcement agencies out to catch them and identify any child victims.

“This is not harmless browsing; it is a serious crime and will be treated as such. There’s no justification for viewing, downloading, uploading, sharing or worse - producing - images or videos of innocent children being sexually abused, exploited or tortured.”

-ends-

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