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Northern NSW woman charged in connection to Operation Saintes

30 November 2021, 7:52am
Media Release

Northern NSW woman charged in connection to Operation Saintes

A 22-year-old woman is due to appear at Blacktown Court House today (30 November 2021) charged with offences relating to sexual activity with minors and the possession of morphine as part of an ongoing AFP investigation.

The woman was arrested yesterday (29 November 2021) at a location in western Sydney as part of Operation Saintes, an AFP human trafficking investigation into allegations of sexual servitude offences. The AFP arrested a 40-year-old man from Yarrowyck, near Armidale, in March 2021. The man is currently before the courts. Further details of the investigation are available in the media release published at the time of this man's arrest.

It will be alleged in court that the woman was actively engaging in activity to enable sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 years, and had transmitted child abuse material featuring another person under the age of 18 years.

Police will also allege the woman illegally obtained morphine from a hospital. A hospital-grade IV bag containing 30 grams of morphine was seized from the Yarrowyck house in March 2021. Further investigation is ongoing into the exact circumstances of the acquisition and use of the morphine.

AFP investigators, with the assistance of NSW Police, arrested the woman in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown yesterday (29 November 2021) and she was charged with:

  • Six counts of using a carriage service to prepare or plan to engage in sexual activity with, persons under 16, contrary to section 474.25C(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code (Cth). This offence is punishable by 10 years' imprisonment;
  • Five counts of use carriage service (transmit) for child abuse material, contrary to section 474.19(1)(a)(iii) Criminal Code (Cth). This offence in punishable by 15 years' imprisonment; and
  • Possession of a prescribed restricted substance, contrary to section 16(1) of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1996 (NSW). This offence is punishable by six months' imprisonment.

Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis said the AFP investigation is still ongoing and appealed for any further victims to come forward.

"This arrest shows the AFP is dedicated to fully investigating this matter and following up all avenues of enquiry. Anyone with further information about this matter should contact the AFP on 131 AFP (131 237) or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000," Detective Superintendent Bellis said.

"AFP investigators have worked tirelessly to investigate this matter, and further analysis of material seized in March 2021 search warrants has resulted in these charges against a second person. The AFP will not rule out further charges in this matter."

Notes to media

Victims of human trafficking

The Support for Trafficked People Program is a key component of Australia's anti-human trafficking strategy and the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25.

The Support Program helps victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, and is delivered nationally by the Red Cross.

If you or someone you know is being exploited, help is available. For information and confidential advice please contact Australian Red Cross. Call (03) 9345 1800 or visit the Red Cross website.

A list of signs to identify potential human trafficking in Australia are available on the Human trafficking & slavery indicators page.

Content trigger warnings: Support for victims of sexual assault

If you are a victim of sexual assault there are many services you can contact, depending on your needs, to report the crime, or to seek counselling and support.

The NSW Victims Access Line (1800 633 063) provides information, referral and support to victims of crime.

1800RESPECT is the national online and telephone counselling and support service for people who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, sexual assault and/or domestic and family violence.

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297