April 28, 2016 4:19 am
Updated: April 28, 2016 5:57 pm

80 arrested, 274 charges laid in massive Ontario-wide child porn bust

WATCH ABOVE: 80 charged in province-wide OPP child porn raids

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Ontario Provincial Police, with help from law enforcement partners in Canada and the United States, have charged 80 people with 274 criminal offences in connection to a massive province-wide internet child pornography investigation.

Police say 174 search warrants were conducted this week leading to the arrests, including one youth, with more to come.

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“There’s always been a misconception that a lot of this material is produced in third world type countries,” OPP Det. Staff-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning.

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

Goldschmidt says the suspects face charges including possession of child pornography, make available child pornography, accessing child pornography and sexual assault.

During the investigation, which involved 27 law enforcement agencies across Ontario including the Canadian Forces and United States Homeland Security, police say they also recovered drugs and weapons.

Police say 20 victims were identified as part of the probe including the rescue of nine minors who had been working in the sex trade.

Investigators say they were able to track down the suspected offenders using IP addresses linked to computers that were actively downloading and distributing child porn.

In total, 2,038 unique IP address were targeted in the last 90 days leading up the Thursday’s announcement.

READ MORE: Ontario daycare employee charged with child porn offences in major police investigation

Earlier this week, an employee at an Ontario daycare was charged with child pornography offences in connection to the case.

A statement by the Milton Community Resource Centre (MCRC) confirmed a staff member at its Bronte Street location was arrested and has since been fired and barred from entering the premises for the duration of the investigation.

Halton Regional Police identified the worker as 37-year-old Steven Campbell who had been employed by MCRC since September 2013.

Parents who send their children to the daycare in Milton said Thursday the accused was very well-liked.

“He’s a very popular teacher. He’s friendly. My son was in his class for about a year,” said Aman Bains.

“Nowadays you don’t know what people are up to on their own time. Unless they’ve been caught and convicted, that’s the only way you find out.”

Others say the daycare has done its due diligence but that some may slip through the cracks.

“They do all their police checks. They do their vulnerable security screenings. Until somebody gets caught, they’re all clean,” said parent Dave Newsome.

“What more can you do besides going to somebody’s house and search their hard drive on their computers. There’s not much you can do.”

VIDEO: OPP: Younger victims more prevalent to appear in child porn

Child advocacy experts say perpetrators of child exploitation often target youth and young children who are most vulnerable.

“80 per cent of the images involve children under the age of 12. 80 per cent involve girls and 50 per cent involve sexual assaults,” said Lianne Macdonald from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Police say they are also now seeing offenders as young as 10 to 12 years of age engaged in child pornography.

“The technology has provided them with the perfect tool to go online and search out this type of material,” said Goldschmidt.

OPP officials say further arrests are expected to be made in the case and are urging parents to be aware of their children’s activities online.

“We cannot arrest ourselves out of this phenomenon. We have to create an awareness. As parents, we have to take ownership of our children,” explained OPP Chief Superintendent Don Bell.

Below are the names of the accused including the charges.

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