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Nearly 400 children have been rescued and 348 adults arrested following an “extraordinary” international child pornography investigation in Canada, according to a report by NBC News.
The three-year undercover project, named Project Spade, began back in 2010 when Toronto police officers first made contact with a man who had been sharing “very graphic images” of child sexual abuse.
What they eventually found was a full blown child porn production and distribution company in Toronto that was distributing their content online. The site was run by 42-year old Brian Way and sold and distributed images of child exploitation to people across the world.
The head of Toronto’s Sex Crimes Unit said they enlisted the help of the United States Postal Inspection Service since many of the videos were being exported to the U.S. and began a joint investigation. After a seven-month long investigation, officers executed search warrants across the city of Toronto including at the business of Brian Way.
It was there that investigators catalogued hundreds of thousands of images and videos of “horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst they have ever viewed,” said the lead investigator at a recent press conference.
Police seized over 45 terabytes of data from the $4-million business that distributed child porn to over 50 counties including Australia, Spain, Mexico, Sweden and Greece. As a result of the investigation thus far, 50 people were arrested in Ontario, 58 in other parts of Canada, 76 in the United States, and 164 internationally.
What was most alarming was that many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children. Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents.
In one particularly horrific example of those arrested, police found over 350,000 images and over 9,000 videos of child sexual abuse in the home of a retired Canadian school teacher. Some of the images were of children known to the man and he was also charged with sexually abusing a child relative.
The inspector said an indispensable aspect to the success of the operation and the rescue of 386 children from child exploitation was the expansive cooperation between Toronto police and organizations worldwide.
“[This] confirms that when we work together regardless of the borders that divide us we can successfully take down those who not only prey on our most vulnerable but also profit from it.
Child pornography has become more prevalent and larger than we would ever like to imagine. It is said to be a $3 billion dollar industry globally, generating massive amounts of money for people willing to exploit young children.
While federal agencies work endlessly to fight this global issue and rescue the children affected, the people who actually get caught for the crime are just the tip of the iceberg.
Child pornography has been expanding virally on the web for years and the material is only getting worse. In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. Every week there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2003). Furthermore, U.S Customs Services estimates that illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites.
To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com , or call 1-800-843-5678.
What YOU Can Do
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