OPP – Hundreds of Charges Laid Across Ontario in Child Exploitation Investigation

In Police Blotter

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced staggering numbers in online child exploitation arrests as part of province-wide Project Aquatic.

Members of the OPP-led Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet (Provincial ICE [Internet Child Exploitation] Strategy) took part in child sexual abuse investigations that was both reactive and proactive. The investigations began on February 19, 2024, and ended on February 29, 2024, with investigators identifying and arresting those making, possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material. The identified victims were provided victim support, and impacted children were safeguarded.

As a result of Project Aquatic:

  • 34 victims were identified
  • 30 children were safeguarded
  • 64 people were charged
  • 348 charges were laid
  • 607 electronic devices were seized

Notably, during the investigation, one individual set up a meeting with undercover investigators intending to meet with a child in real life for a sexual purpose. Another individual was in possession of approximately 21 terabytes of data containing child sexual abuse material.

During the media event, a human-sized graphic displayed an iceberg, showing the 129 investigations completed during Project Aquatic and the 8,638 investigations completed in 2023 above the surface. In addition, 82,082 investigations were completed between 2006 and 2023 by the Provincial ICE Strategy’s 27 police services, representing the bottom of the iceberg beneath the water. Within that period, 29,025 charges were laid against 7,493 people. These completed investigations demonstrate the scope of the issue regarding child sexual abuse material, which remains a pervasive safety issue that is often unseen by many members of the public.

Police members acknowledged the significant contributions of parents, educators, child advocacy organizations, government and technology providers in combating this issue. Provincial ICE Strategy members urge all parties to remain vigilant and to intensify their involvement to further strengthen the collective effort to protect children from victimization. Members of the public are invited to learn about how to keep children safe at Canadian Centre for Child Protection or cybertip.ca.

A list of arrested persons, which includes municipality of residence and respective charges, is attached to this media release (see ADDENDUM – PROJECT AQUATIC). Multimedia is available at opp.ca/news.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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