Five people have been arrested following an investigation by the Alberta’s Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) into an increase in child sexual exploitation offences in Grande Prairie, Alta.
ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) made the arrests as part of Operation ICE Tundra.
The investigation led to the execution of seven search warrants at seven homes with the assistance of Grande Prairie RCMP between Nov. 27-30.
Police said all of the investigations were independent of one another, but each one shared the common thread of individuals uploading and accessing child sexual abuse material over the internet.
Operation ICE Tundra began in October when investigators noticed an increase in case referrals originating from Grande Prairie. ICE receives case referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Center.
“An operation of this scale isn’t possible every day, but it’s important our unit creates a presence in smaller communities, showing that we will not tolerate this abuse against children,” said Sgt. Kerry Shima of the ALERT ICE unit. “When these types of files are shared online, it’s the children who are the victims and are revictimized each time that file is shared.”
Police said the ICE unit used it’s Mobile Evidence Recovery Technology Lab (MERTL) to allow officers to quickly conduct a “preliminary analysis of electronic devices and computers seized from the homes.”
“Our intention is always to support and protect the community and we recognize that throughout Alberta our job is to protect not only the community, but the children and vulnerable youth in the community. Grande Prairie should be assured that we’re up there working with them,” Shima added.
As a result of the investigation five people now face multiple charges including accessing, possession and transmission of child pornography: 34-year-old Christopher Nanemahoo, 29-year-old Patrick L’Hirondelle, 36-year old Stuart Kuechle, 56-year-old Naitram Ramnarane and 46-year-old Dwayne Dyer.
Dyer is also charged with firearms-related offences as three firearms inside his home were being unsafely stored.
Police said they did not believe the suspects are known to one another and the investigations do not appear to be connected.