Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Canadians arrested in global investigation into child sex abuse live-streams

Canadians arrested in global investigation into child sex abuse live-streams

Overall, participants in Project Mercury said the investigation netted 153 arrests and led to the rescue of dozens of children.

The youngest victim was a 10-month-old.

The investigation, dubbed "Project Mercury", began in 2014 and was a partnership between the Toronto Police Service, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom, Homeland Security and numerous other police agencies around the world, which identified multiple live-streams of child sex abuse. Myron Demkiw said at the press conference on Thursday.

"When I first saw the ads on TLC for American Muslim I was a little bothered", he said.

Det. -Const. Janelle Blackadar explained that Toronto Police were contacted by the U.K.'s National Crime Agency after their 2014 discovery of a group of offenders who were involved in child sex abuse online, one of whom was a Toronto resident.

In March 2016 Toronto police also discovered "child abuse material" of a sexual assault of an 8-year-old.

She said the live-streaming of children being sexually abused is "on the rise" and putting a dent in the huge global problem is "a daunting task". The man, identified in an undercover investigation as Mark Leonard, 41, of Toronto, has since been convicted.

A man who works for Australia's Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) has been charged with seven counts of child sexual abuse.

One of the alleged perpetrators in that case was arrested in Pennsylvania, the other in Saskatoon, Blackadar said, adding Canadian authorities are now working to have the Saskatchewan man declared a risky offender. Seven arrests have been made in Toronto, two in Ottawa, and one each in Belleville, Thunder Bay, Quebec, Edmonton, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Saskatoon.

None of the Canadians arrested held positions of public trust, police said, but that did not hold true in other jurisdictions.

As a result of Project Mercury, the National Crime Agency's Graham Ellis said United Kingdom authorities made 79 arrests - including four teachers, a doctor, a member of police staff, a nurse, a priest and a private music tutor. The child was also rescued.

US authorities arrested 58 suspects, according to Homeland Security Investigations Attache Melissa Ruiz.

"If you're a predator, know that we will find you, arrest you, and ensure that you face the full weight of the law", Ruiz said.

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