The RCMP announced "Operation Snapshot" resulted in 21 arrests in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta. Nine other men are under investigation and one child has been rescued.
The announcement was made yesterday by members of the RCMP's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (CPCMEC). The 30 investigations were conducted as part of "Operation Snapshot" that began in June in order to identify and arrest high-risk offenders. The 21 men arrested face charges that include, possession, accessing, making, and distributing child pornography, as well as indecent exposure, Internet luring, and invitation to sexual touching.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said, "I am very proud of the professionalism and quality of service of the men and women on this team. These types of investigations are very demanding and stressful for the officers involved, but through this operation we are sending a clear message to individuals who are engaged in this exploitative and destructive behaviour: we will find you and prosecute you."
According to CPCMEC, over 100 computers and hundreds of thousands of images were seized by various RCMP Divisions and local law enforcement officials in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.
Staff Sgt. Ron Weir of the Regina Police Service is quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, "Our preliminary investigations are showing that some of these offenders had massive collections of child pornography and had been building these collections for years."
Det. Sgt. Darren Parisien is quoted by CBC as saying most of the seized images were of children under the age of 12. He said, "More and more increasingly we're dealing with images of infants, toddlers, and children who cannot even speak."
Parisien also said that the men who have been arrested were not part of an organized child pornography ring. Rather they were operating largely independent of one another.
The Regina Leader-Post reports the rescued child was a 14-year-old Saskatoon boy. He had been sexually abused for about five years by a roommate of a parent. The man was arrested in June and recently pleaded guilty to sexual offences. He is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence.
Parisien notes that most of the images recovered are not from overseas but are "homegrown." Police are currently in the process of attempting to identify the children in the pictures.
Operation Snapshot is continuing and more arrests are expected. A similar operation will be set up for Eastern Canada.