Eight Oshawa men among 107 charged with child exploitation last month in Project Maverick

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Published November 30, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Twenty-seven police forces from across Ontario created Project Maverick, resulting in 127 men province-wide being charged in connection with child pornography.

The numbers are stark and the results “alarming” as 27 different police services combined to lay 428 charges and arrest 107 people involved in child exploitation in Ontario last month.

Dubbed Project Maverick, the charges are just a “snapshot” of the work done by investigators and analysts that make up the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet (Provincial Strategy).

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During October the 27 policing partners conducted 255 investigations, completed 168 search warrants and seized 1,032 devices. In total, 428 charges were laid against 107 people.

During the investigations, 61 victims were identified and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance, while an additional 60 children were safeguarded. There are 175 ongoing investigations where additional charges may be laid.

Durham Police is one of the partners in the ongoing investigation and Inspector Dave Mason of the Major Crime Unit called the numbers “alarming” while lauding the “remarkable” efforts of the officers and civilian staff involved.

“I hope it provides some comfort to the community that we are working diligently each day to ensure the safety and security of our children,” he said. “Those responsible for these crimes will be held accountable for their actions and we will continue to work with our partners to combat child exploitation.  If you know anyone that needs our help, please reach out”

The Provincial Strategy includes two ministries (Attorney General and Solicitor General) and police agencies in Barrie, Belleville, Brantford, Chatham-Kent, Cornwall, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Halton, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Niagara, North Bay, OPP, Ottawa, Peel, Peterborough, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, Woodstock and York, in addition to Durham.

Additional partners that participated in these investigations included OPP Digital Forensics, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security. The BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, the Children’s Aid Society and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection provided victims’ support and education.

Since the Provincial Strategy began in 2006, it has completed 65,564 investigations and laid 24,608 charges against 6,540 people. A total of 3,470 victims have been identified worldwide.

Thirteen Durham residents – all men – were charged in October, including eight from Oshawa. The list includes a 51 year-old Whitby man charged with possession, accessing and distributing, as well as making, child pornography.

Others charged included two Oshawa men and one Bowmanville man charged with possession, accessing and distributing child pornography; three Oshawa men and one youth, along with men from Courtice and Pickering charged with possession and accessing child pornography; and two Oshawa males and one from Courtice charged with fail to comply with release order.

“These numbers are shocking, but they provide hope by showing the lengths our teams are willing to go to protect children,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Kari Dart, OPP Investigation and Support Bureau. “I would like to express gratitude for the hard work of the Provincial Strategy members, and our partners, in keeping children in this province safe and holding those who want to harm them accountable.”

The investigations continue and anyone with information on these or any child exploitation investigations are asked to contact their local police. Report any instances of online child abuse to police or cybertip.ca. If a child is being harmed, call 9-1-1.

“The work done by the Provincial Strategy members take us to some of the darkest corners of society and exposes the horrific crimes committed every day against children. This is not a crime that can be combatted by our members alone and we ask that everyone out there recognize the importance they play in protecting children, said OPP Detective Sergeant Jamie King, Provincial Strategy Lead. “Report these crimes, remain vigilant and educate yourself.”

To learn how to keep children safe, go to Canadian Centre for Child Protection or cybertip.ca.

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