A New Zealander has been charged after he was allegedly found with a stash of “child sexual abuse” material, upon returning from Thailand.
The 51-year-old appeared in Hamilton District Court on June 28 and further charges are likely, according to a New Zealand Customs Service media statement.
The man was questioned by Customs officers when he arrived at Auckland Airport on June 26 after spending three weeks in Thailand.
His USB and tablet were searched, revealing evidence of indecent images, the statement said.
A search of his home later that day found “a large number” of images and videos of child sexual abuse.
Child protection is a matter Customs takes seriously, with specialist investigators and forensic experts working to combat such “horrendous crimes”, Customs Investigations manager Bruce Berry said.
The movement of such material is actively targeted, Berry said, both across physical borders and the “cyber border”.
“Child exploitation is a significant and growing threat in New Zealand, due to the increasing use of the dark web, live-streaming, and cybersex trafficking, as well as an increase in the number of sex offenders who are traveling.
“It is important to understand this is is not a victimless crime – the trade of child sexual exploitation material; directly correlates to increased risks of physical abuse.”
And each image or video depicts scenes of real children being abused, Berry said.
Additional investment in Budget 2019 – $10.2 million over four years – will further strengthen Customs’ ability to identify and respond to child exploitation, Berry said.
So far this year, 11 people have been arrested or charged by customs for such crimes.