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Sixteen men have been charged and two underage victims of luring have been identified and rescued following a three-month investigation involving multiple law enforcement teams that uncovered more than 6,800 photos and videos containing child pornography.
“Operation Icebreaker … clearly demonstrates that child exploitation continues to be an issue in Alberta and impacts communities both large and small within the province,” said Insp. Dave Dubenik, with the Alberta Child Exploitation Unit.
WATCH: Investigators with ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Team have arrested 16 Alberta men after after a three month investigation. Gary Bobrovitz has more.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams’ (ALERT) Internet Exploitation Team said Thursday that search warrants were carried out between April 5 and June 1 with the help of the Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat police and the RCMP.
They said the men who’ve been charged range in age from 16 to 47 years old. Eleven are from Calgary and offenders were also arrested in Airdrie, Strathmore and Red Deer.
“Other than the fact that all of these are men…they match no demographic profile and come from all walks of life and professions,” said Det. Sean Spence, a Calgary Police Service (CPS) officer with the Internet Child Exploitation Unit in Calgary.
Watch below: Det. Sean Spence discusses the two victims of child exploitation identified after a massive child porn investigation.
Investigators said none of the cases are linked.
ALERT said forensic analysts have a great deal of data to go through. More than 500 computers and electronic devices were seized from the homes.
“It’s important to understand that these images and video are a crime in progress,” Spence said. “They’re difficult to watch and get through.”
He said that the victims in the photos and videos range in age from infants up to the age of 17. One of the two victims who was identified and rescued was in the United States; the other was in Kingston, Ont.
Watch below: Det. Sean Spence explains why there may be an increase in child exploitation cases around the world.
“These images can be simply a child being touched in an inappropriate manner all the way to graphic sexual abuse,” he said. “In one circumstance in an investigation that’s still being followed up with, an individual was in possession of a known video where two children were brutally sexually assaulted and murdered.”
He added that in one of the cases police uncovered thousands of images of child abuse and that the suspect “took extreme measures to destroy the evidence.”
“What we’re finding now is that offenders on the internet are very wary of police presence and they want to obtain more and new fresh images,” Spence said.
“So they’ll only trade with other offenders if they provide them with new images. So this is leading to an increase in child sexual assault and images being created.”
Police said more charges and arrests could me made once the data has been examined.
The 16 people accused face a total of 56 child pornography-related charges:
The charges against three of the offenders had previously been announced for fear there were other victims, ALERT said Thursday.
Charges against Agboro, a well-known Strathmore athlete, were announced in May.
Charges against Bulycz, a coach with Calgary’s McKenzie United Soccer Club and other youth sports groups in the city, were announced in June.
Watch below from June 2: A Calgary youth coach is facing child pornography charges after a lengthy investigation. Bindu Suri reports.
Charges against Jacobson were announced in April after authorities said a 13-year-old Tennessee girl was lured over the Internet.
Spence said it is not only the victims and their families that are impacted by these crimes, but the family of the suspects, as well. He said help is available, including through the John Howard Society, family doctors, psychologists and Internet forums.
“There are offenders out there that will see the news and learn about this operation,” Spence said. “I want to relay to them that there is help available and if they don’t stop and they don’t seek help, then they will be arrested.”
Anyone with information about these investigations or any child exploitation offence is asked to contact their local police detachment or visit cybertip.ca.
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