A joint operation between the Australian Federal Police and the FBI has led to the arrest of almost 100 people over child sexual abuse allegations after the fatal shooting of two FBI agents, NBC News reports. “Operation Bakis” rescued at least 13 children from further harm. The joint investigation began after the two FBI agents investigating the alleged pedophile ring were fatally shot in 2021 while executing a search warrant in Sunrise, Fla., for a man suspected of being in possession of child abuse material. The probe was formally launched in 2022 after the FBI provided the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation with intelligence about Australian individuals suspected of being part of a "peer-to-peer network allegedly sharing child abuse material on the dark web."
The Australian suspects are between the ages of 32 to 81. Most of the Australian suspects were employed in occupations that required a high degree of knowledge of internet networks. Some were also accused of having produced their own child abuse material to share with members of the network. “Viewing, distributing or producing child abuse material is a horrific crime, and the lengths that these alleged offenders went to in order to avoid detection makes them especially dangerous — the longer they avoid detection the longer they can perpetuate the cycle of abuse," Australian Federal Police Commander Helen Schneider said. She said that 43 people had been convicted of child abuse offenses in the U.S. as part of the investigation. The FBI alerted other countries to suspects within their jurisdictions but did not name those countries.