An alleged sickening paedophile ring targeting young girls online has arrested 18 men across Perth by WA police.
The suspected predator ring is accused of attempting via social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram to target up to 140 teenage girls, some as young as 13.
It was discovered through months of undercover surveillance by detectives assigned to Operation Timing Belt, a task force called, which began in April.
Police also charged the 18 men – between the ages of 18 and 41 – with 214 offences and may say that 23 of their victims have been sexually assaulted.
Four of the men arrested were previously convicted of child sex offences. The charges include 79 allegations of sexual assault, and a number of complaints of drug, trespass and animal cruelty.
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Daly said the men allegedly approached the girls with the intention of “committing to sexual intercourse with them in the end.”
“The majority of offences are non-physical communication via popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and via mobile phones,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce said the arrests were meant to serve as a warning to parents and criminals.
“These are adult men, for the most part, that aren’t much older (than the girls),” he said.
“But they’re old enough to know better.”
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000.