Four Child Porn Suspects Commit Suicide

Gretchen Gallen
SYDNEY, Australia – As the number of suspects continues to rise sharply in the largest child porn sweep in Australia's history, four suspects have reportedly committed suicide.

After being interviewed by authorities on their involvement with a child porn ring that has so far rendered more than 500 suspects, the four men were later found dead in their homes in Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia, a local newspaper reported. The fourth man was found dead in his car in Stratford.

Child porn task force officials with Operation Auxin have filed charges against 200 of the 500 people suspected of involvement in a network that included fellow police officers, teachers, clergy, senior defense officials and government officials in possession of a range of illegal material, still shots, streaming videos and child sex tourism information, police said.

Police have reported that some of the images in question were of toddlers that had generated from a website controlled by Russian mafia. Some of the people arrested reportedly had child pornography libraries in excess of 250,000 images and what appeared to be home studios designed to produce child pornography.

The raid occurred last week in a broad sweep of more than 400 homes, officials reported at the time, and more raids are expected sometime next week. Police have said that an estimated 700 suspects remain at large as the investigation continues.

A tip-off to U.S. customs about child pornography on the Internet produced 95,000 leads worldwide at the start of this year, said Mick Keelty, Australian Federal Police Commissioner. In many cases, the money trail led to a Belarus company called RegPay, formally Trustbill, that processed paid memberships to dozens of child porn websites.

"This operation has provided us information in the order of in excess of 500 Australians accessing the material," Keelty said. "It's almost certain that there will be further arrests."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard expressed shock Friday at the extent of child porn in Australia.

"The thing that perhaps shocks me most of all is the way in which it has spread across different sections of the community," Howard was quoted as saying.