Over 100 Suspects Charged in Child Exploitation Investigation Across Ontario
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has charged over 100 suspects in connection with child exploitation. Project Maverick was conducted in October as part of the “Provincial Strategy to Protect Children From Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.” OPP worked with 27 policing partners to find the culprits.
As part of Project Maverick run by OPP alongside 27 policing partners including Toronto, Peel, Durham, Hamilton, and Ottawa, a total of 277 investigations were conducted throughout October. The police executed 168 search warrants and seized 1,032 devices. The month-long initiative saw 428 charges laid against 107 people. It ended in safeguarding 60 children and helping identify 61 victims. Currently, there are another 175 investigations going on which may lead to additional charges being filed.
OPP Chief Superintendent Kari Dart said in a statement, “These numbers are shocking, but they provide hope by showing the lengths our teams are willing to go to protect children.” Toronto police Det. Sgt. Barb Adam said at a news conference, “Through projects like these, we’re able to work together crossing borders and jurisdictions not only provincially but globally as well.”
Toronto police shared it carried out 24 search warrants in 20 days which lead to the arrest of 23 people and a total of 96 criminal charges. The police service also seized 131 devices containing images of child sexual abuse and exploitation. They safeguarded 10 children and identified 22 victims. Adam added that these charges include luring a person under 16, distribution and the making of child pornography, sexual assault, an invitation to sexual touching, and sexual interference, among others.
There were also some repeat offenders among those arrested by Toronto police.
This plan comes in response to the increasing sextortion and self-exploitation among children. There has been an increase in the number of young teenage boys being targeted, according to Adam. The strategy to prevent these acts started in 2006 and since then, the police have filed more than 24,600 charges against 6,540 people.