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4 Medicine Hat men arrested on child pornography charges: ICE Unit

Alberta's child and youth advocate is calling on the province to improve services in order to protect children from online sexual exploitation.
Alberta's child and youth advocate is calling on the province to improve services in order to protect children from online sexual exploitation. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit has arrested four men in connection with a variety of child sexual exploitation offenses in Medicine Hat, Alta.

In a news release on Thursday, ALERT said an investigation began after the suspects allegedly engaged in online child exploitation.

During the investigation, the ICE unit seized a total of 43 computers and electronic devices, and officials are still working to conduct a full forensic analysis, ALERT said.

With the help of Medicine Hat police, the suspects were arrested between May 12 and 14.

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Thomas Bindr, 27; Blaine Vadnais, 78; Jeremy Unruh, 43; and Owen Michael Monteith, 34, have all been charged with at least one count of child pornography.

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ALERT said there is no link between the suspects other than the nature of the offenses that were allegedly committed.

READ MORE: ICE reports spike in online child exploitation cases in Alberta amid COVID-19 pandemic

ALERT CEO, Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, noted that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ALERT’s ICE unit has seen an increase in child exploitation cases. Lakusta also stressed the importance of monitoring youths’ online activity during times of increased usage.

“Sadly, our ICE unit has been inundated with cases involving online child exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lakusta said.

“While people are spending more time online, I can’t emphasize enough the need to implement safe internet practices and know-how in order to protect our children.”