February 21, 2005
Child porn crackdown leads to 19 arrests
February 21, 2005
New Zealand - School teachers and sports coaches were among 45 people interviewed by police in a crackdown on child pornography and abuse over the last two days.
The sting, codenamed Operation Tercel, resulted in 19 arrests and the seizure of 113 computers after police acted on information received from overseas enforcement agencies.
A further 22 people were "released on summons" after police executed 48 search warrants from Auckland to Invercargill, police said in a statement.
One person had 25 computers and hard drives.
The officer in charge of Operation Tercel, Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand, said it was part of an international campaign against child abuse and pornography.
Of the 45 people interviewed, some had previous histories of sexual abuse and criminal sexual offending.
Their occupations included information technology, coaching and school teaching.
"This has been an inter-agency operation in New Zealand with police, customs and Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) acting on information received from overseas law enforcement agencies," Mr Hollewand said, adding the operation was not unique.
"Department of Internal Affairs routinely investigate and prosecute people for possession of objectionable material."
The operation had been in the planning stages for some time and a total of 101 police, DIA and customs staff were involved in the operation.
The arrests come just two weeks after Time Magazine questioned if New Zealand was becoming a "haven for paedophiles", alleging the country had failed to act on information from the United States.
That was hotly denied by Police Minister George Hawkins and even the Stop Demand Foundation, which campaigns against sexual violence against children, said the article was "sensationalised".
Mr Hollewand today warned the whole community had to be prepared to fight against Internet child abuse.
"Internet safety starts at home – parents and supervisors of children need to educate themselves and children on how to protect themselves from exploitation online."