Australia

Alleged WA predator ring busted

WA Police have arrested 18 men across Perth over an alleged sickening paedophile ring targeting young girls online.The alleged predator ring is accused of attempting to groom up to 140 teenage girls, some as young as 13, through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.It was uncovered through months of covert surveillance from detectives…

WA Police have arrested 18 men across Perth over an alleged sickening paedophile ring targeting young girls online.

The alleged predator ring is accused of attempting to groom up to 140 teenage girls, some as young as 13, through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

It was uncovered through months of covert surveillance from detectives attached to a task force dubbed Operation Timing Belt, which began in April.

Police have charged the 18 men – aged 18 to 41 – with 214 offences and will allege 23 of their victims were subjected to sexual abuse.

Four of the men arrested had previous convictions for child sex offences.

Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce said the arrests should act as a warning for parents and for offenders.

“These are adult men, for the most part, that aren’t much older (than the girls),” he said.

“But they’re old enough to know better.”

Police believe some of the members work together to groom children, Asst Comm Royce said.

“The grooming is usually planned, careful and it takes some time,” he said.

Investigations under Operation Timing Belt continue.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000.

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