Australian police officers have arrested 14 men on Wednesday, in connection with investigations that led to the rescue of 46 children lured into a huge international child abuse network. The victims were between the ages of 16 months and 15 years old and were subjected to sexual abuse and various forms of exploitation. Sixteen of the victims were said to have attended one particular childcare centre.

Believed to be one of the biggest child abuse cases ever busted in Australia, police investigations led to arrests in the US with other suspects identified also holding operations in Europe, Asia, Canada and New Zealand.

According to the Australian Federal Police ( AFP), the 14 arrested suspects will be facing a total of 828 child exploitation charges along with charges of bestiality involving four animals. Investigations also revealed the network has been producing videos and images of children which are shared over the internet.

The investigation had authorities carefully plotting out their moves for a year after receiving a tip-off from US counterparts who had a lead on an Australian internet user. This brought them to the arrest of a 30-year-old man from North Sydney in February, who has since been charged with 89 offences which included the abuse of two children, the BBC wrote.

From that case, police were able to weave through social media forums where its users were producing and sharing explicit videos and photos involving children. This led them to uncovering more offenders and more children that needed to be saved. The suspects are between the age range of 20 and 48 years old, which included a variety of men that held jobs such as an electrician, a supermarket employee, a volunteer soccer coach, a disability care worker and even a chef.

AFP Commander Christopher Woods said, "These men allegedly produced child abuse material for the depraved pleasure of their peers with absolutely no thought to the lasting effects their actions would have on these children."

In their list of the most serious cases was that of a suspect who had worked in a childcare centre in New South Wales. The suspect, a 27-year-old man, along with his partner had access to 30 children they had preyed on. The couple both face 300 charges of sexual abuse.

Just last month, the AFP arrested 44 men across Australia who were involved in a separate case of child exploitation.

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