80 face charges in Canada child exploitation raid

By Barry Ellsworth

TRENTON, Ont. (AA) – A massive raid on Internet child pornography in the province of Ontario netted 80 suspects and 20 victims were identified, Canadian authorities said Thursday.

In all, 174 search warrants were conducted and 27 police forces worked together on the investigation, including the Canadian military, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and U.S. Homeland Security.

Girls aged 14 -16 were coerced into working in the sex trade the investigation found. Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said the minors were taken to safety.

“The creation and distribution of images of child sexual abuse, the luring of young people by predators and the proliferation of Internet sites where pictures of every imaginable sex act can be accessed by anyone, continues to be a major concern to police agencies worldwide,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Don Bell at a press conference in Toronto.

The charges against suspects include possession of child pornography, making child pornography available, accessing child pornography and sexual assault.

An OPP detective staff-sergeant said many people have a misconception that child porn material is produced in third-world countries alone.

“But it is our experience and [that of] the investigations that we’ve completed, just as much of that material is produced right here in Ontario,” Frank Goldschmidt said.

Drugs and weapons were also confiscated during the raids.

Investigators were able to track suspects using IP addresses linked to computers that were used to download and distribute child porn, police said.

In the 90 days leading up to Thursday’s press conference, authorities targeted 2,038 unique IP addresses. An IP, or Internet Protocol, address is a string of numbers separated by periods that identifies individual computers used to communicate over a network.

OPP Sgt. Peter Leon said U.S. Homeland Security was involved in the Ontario investigation because “there are borders between Canada and the U.S., but electronic crimes know no borders.”

Often, child pornographers target vulnerable youth and young people.

“Eighty percent of the images involve children under the age of 12,” said Lianne Macdonald of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection told Global News television. “Eighty percent involve girls and 50 percent involve sexual assaults.”

Police urged parents to be aware of what their children are doing online in a bid to safeguard them from predators.