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'Townsville Child Abuse & Sexual Crimes Unit – ‘Operation Chandra’

Operation Chandra commenced in 2021 by Queensland Police, Townsville Child Abuse Unit with the aim of identifying, investigating and disrupting the impact of offenders engaged in the facilitation of international and domestic child trafficking through live-stream child sexual exploitation. Operation Chandra utilised a joint agency response model consisting of law enforcement, Government and Non-Government financial agencies using modern technology to proactively identify, investigate or refer persons suspected of involvement with child exploitation.
Philippines – Global Epicentre for Child Abuse
In 2016, the Philippines was described as the ‘global epicentre of live-stream sexual abuse trade.’ A context of poverty affecting a large part of the national population, common use of the English language, readily accessible high speed internet and diverse of international money transfer systems. The Philippines is categorised as one of the top 20 countries in the world for the number of internet users – in excess of 54 million people (EXPAT international 2011), with further estimates of approximately 100,000 child victims of sex trafficking. According to the Filipino government, the Philippines child exploitation industry is one of the biggest global markets, exceeding us $1 billion dollars annually.
Previous case studies suggested that between 500 and 2000 Philippines Pesos – (PHP) ($13 to $55 AUD), was a transaction indicative of live-stream child sex shows. With the assistance of QPS Intelligence and AUSTRAC, investigators commenced an analysis of outgoing transactions from North Queensland of between $1 and $200 made to high-risk jurisdictions.
Over the period of 6 months, a target list of 175 North Queensland persons was developed through pattern analysis of suspected indicators consistent with the sale of livestream child exploitation and cross referenced with intelligence holdings from Australian Policing agencies.
Major financial institutions were individually approached, seeking assistance with the identification and analysis of possible customers engaged with payment-based offending and the impact of child sexual exploitation. This led to the adoption of a memorandum of understanding with a major financial institution and build upon successful referrals for child exploitation investigation.

Dr Michael Salter.jpg

Detective Sergeant - QPS

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