TORONTO (Reuters) - At least 22 people, including a minor, have been charged in what police said on Tuesday was one of Central Canada’s biggest investigations of Internet child pornography.
The investigation, which began in January, led to 25 search warrants being executed in 16 Ontario communities, and 73 criminal charges laid. Charges are pending against four others.
“Fair warning to pedophiles: you can run, but you can’t hide,” Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino told a news conference.
“Sooner or later, we will identify you, we will arrest you and we will bring you to justice.”
Charges include possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography, as well as child luring and drug and weapons offenses.
The adult suspects ranged in age from 20 to 64, and all but one were male. The one minor arrested in the sweep was charged with pornography possession.
Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, said she was not surprised by the range of ages of those arrested in the sweep.
The organization has received 25,000 tips about child pornography on the Web from the public in recent years, mostly from people who discovered the material by accident while surfing the Internet.
McDonald said her organization is trying to teach parents that the danger to children of being sexually abused is more likely to come from people the children know and trust, such as relatives or family friends.
“We tell them it’s not about strangers but about strangeness,” she said.
Reporting by John McCrank, Allan Dowd; Editing by Peter Galloway