Australian police break up child porn network

Australian police say they have broken up a child pornography network with the arrest of at least 13 men nationwide.

Officers seized computer hardware containing hundreds of thousands of child exploitation images and videos, police said.

The network originated in Germany. The crackdown in Australia came after a tip from Interpol.

The men are alleged to have accessed and downloaded the images over a file-sharing network.

They will face charges for the offences that could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, said Australian media.

In an investigation codenamed Operation Belfort, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) searched properties in the states of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

They seized computers, hard drives, laptop computers, portable storage devices and mobile phones, police said ina statement.

Some of the images depicted infants, the AFP's Glen McEwen told reporters.

The nationalities of the children involved, and the locations where the images and videos were shot, are not clear.

The investigation into the network began in December, and the men arrested range in age from 21 to 64, police said.

"If child predators think that they can avoid being detected they should think again,'' said Mr McEwen. ''The internet is not immune from law enforcement activity."

More arrests may follow, Australian media reported.

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