A search warrant in Dubbo was part of the two-year AFP investigation

The AFP arrested three men, a 64-year-old and 63-year-old from Grafton, an 83-year-old from Townsville and served a Court Attendance Notice to a Western Australian woman during the nation-wide operation Noetic on Wednesday.

AFP Assistant Commissioner of Crime Operations Debbi Platz said because of the search warrants and arrests “they had disrupted an organised and well-resourced group of people”.

She said the group helped women to abduct children and keep them hidden from their family, friends and police sometimes for many years.

The group, is alleged to have been working together since as early as 2008.

“During this two-year investigation, 10 missing children have been safely located in the custody of a parent who has abducted them. Five of these are believed to be linked to this group of people,” A/C Platz said.

“The actions of this group do not protect children. What it does is potentially endanger the safety and wellbeing of them.”

Police alleged the group is a sophisticated network which used clandestine methods to abduct children and move them across Australia.

They allegedly changed the children’s identity, appearance and isolated them for long periods of time.

Assistant Commissioner Platz said this type of criminal activity had shown to cause long-lasting impacts for children.

“The actions of these people is not to protect children, what it does is potentially endanger the safety and well-being of these children,” A/C Platz said.

Police believe the group was helped by others who may have provided transport, accommodation and food.

“We know from this investigation that some people in multiple states across Australia have assisted the group without realising they were committing serious criminal offences,” A/C Platz said.  

“However, we have been surprised by who has been prepared to risk criminal charges by knowing and willingly providing support to this group across multiple states in Australia.

AFP manager of Crime Operations Commander Justine Gough said police believed the “sophisticated network” used a “cash economy” and encrypted message applications to operate.

She said police believed the group had international links to New Zealand and South Africa, with an “intelligence picture” of yacht associated with the ring.

“We think what that vessel was likely to be used for was to convey children from where it was moored in Fremantle to Tasmania and perhaps onto New Zealand.

Commander Gough said inquiries would continue as the group had relied on “like-minded sympathisers”. 

“I would like to urge people who have any knowledge of this group and their activities to come forward and contact AFP or Crime Stoppers with any information they have,” A/C Platz said.

Police could not rule out further arrests as their investigations continue.

The two Grafton men faced Grafton Local Court on Thursday and are scheduled to appear again in the coming months. 

The 64-year-old Grafton man was been charged with the following offences:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice,
  • Deal in the proceeds of crime to the value of $100,000 or more,

The 63-year-old Grafton man has been charged with the following offences:

  • Two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice.
  • Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.
  • Publish an account of proceedings,

The Townsville man was charged with the following offences:

  • Deal in the proceeds of crime to the value of $10,000 or more,
  • Deal in the proceeds of crime
  • Aid and abet the publication of an account of proceedings,

The 78-year-old Perth woman is scheduled to face Perth Magistrates Court on 14 December 2018.

Source : https://www.dailyliberal.com.au/story/5710966/charges-made-over-group-helping-parents-abduct-own-children/

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