47 Canadians charged in global child sex investigation

47 arrests in child sex ring

UPDATE: 12:50 p.m

One of the 47 Canadians arrested in a recent international child sexual exploitation investigation was living in East Vancouver.

The Vancouver Police Department says the 22-month investigation, dubbed Operation H, led to the arrest of 40-year-old Kristjon Olson.

As a result of the massive investigation that began in New Zealand, Olson is now facing 26 charges, including including making, distributing, and possessing child pornography, exposing, extortion, communicating with a person under age 16 for a sexual purpose, invitation to sexual touching, and breaching court orders. The VPD says the allegations occurred between January 2019 and June 2020.

“Online child exploitation cases are some of the most complex and disturbing for police, in part due to their digital nature and because the victims are often located around the world,” said Sgt. Steve Addison of the Kelowna RCMP.

“Detectives from the Vancouver Police Department’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit worked for nearly two years to gather evidence and secure criminal charges in this case, which involved child sexual abuse material.”

The VPD says the investigation began in April 2020, when New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs identified a thousands of accounts on an international cloud storage platform linked to dozens of people who were allegedly viewing and sharing child pornography.

Earlier Wednesday, the RCMP said 186 charges have been laid in Canada against 47 people, while 12 children have been removed from abusive situations following the investigation.

Olson was already facing separate sex charges, including possessing, importing and distributing child pornography and exposing his genitals to a person under 16. He's scheduled to be sentenced on those charges on March 15, but it's not clear how the new charges may impact that scheduled date.

ORIGINAL: 9:40 a.m.

RCMP say 47 Canadians have been arrested and 12 children have been removed from abusive situations as part of a global investigation into online child sexual exploitation.

Police say 186 charges have been laid in Canada so far during the investigation, dubbed Operation H.
They say arrests have been made in eight provinces over the past two years, but note the investigation is still underway.

The RCMP say the probe began in New Zealand in the fall of 2019, after law enforcement officials were alerted by an electronic service provider who had discovered a large number of subscribers sharing "some of the most graphic and violent child sexual abuse material online."

They say some 90,000 accounts were identified as possessing or sharing child sexual abuse material.

Toronto police, who were contacted as part of the probe, say they have arrested and charged six men with a total of 18 offences, including some related to possessing, accessing and distributing child sex abuse material.

Toronto police Insp. Justin Vander Heyden of the sex crimes unit says one of the accused has since been convicted and jailed, one has died, and the other four are still going through the justice system.

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