POLICE IN TORONTO say 341 people have been arrested, and 386 children rescued from situations where they may be at risk as part of an international investigation into child pornography.
Details of the three-year investigation were revealed at a news conference hosted by the city’s police force this afternoon.
According to local media, 108 of the arrests made were in Canada, including 50 in Ontario, with the remainder in the rest of the country.
The investigation centred on the Toronto-based ‘AzovFilms.com,’ which went out of business in 2011.
Those charged in connection with the case include the head of the company, 42-year-old Brian Way. It’s alleged the company solicited and sold child pornography footage around the world via the internet, according to a press release from Toronto Police.
Authorities from the US, Spain, Sweden and Australia were also involved in the wide-ranging inquiry — several of whom had representatives at today’s press conference.
Toronto Police press release says An Garda Síochána were involved in the investigation. A spokesperson for the force told TheJournal.ie this afternoon that they had no information of any Irish arrests.
The investigation – known as ‘Project Spade – also covered Mexico, Hong Kong, Norway, Greece and Gibraltar.
Undercover officers from Toronto Police first made contact with Way in October 2010, and began an investigation of his company.
The US Postal Inspection Service was called in as the inquiry developed, and the 42-year-old was arrested in May 2011.
According to the police service, over 45 terabytes of data was seized, and the company had revenues in excess of 4 million Canadian dollars (€2.8 million).
It’s alleged that Way “paid various people to film children for the purpose of creating movies for sale on his website”. He faces a total of 24 charges, including ‘possession of child pornography’ and ‘laundering proceeds of crime’.
(Youtube: Toronto Police Service)
(Note: The term ‘child pornography’ is used in this article as it’s the term for the offence used by Interpol, which defines it as “any means of depicting or promoting sexual abuse of a child”).