Police in Ontario have arrested 60 people who will collectively face almost 250 charges in a probe into the sexual exploitation of children over the internet.
The probe involved 99 search warrants executed across Ontario by multiple police forces.
Charges include child luring and making, possessing and distributing child pornography. A total of 14 victims have also been identified and will be given counselling in their communities, police say.
Those charged range in age from teenagers to 63 years old.
- Map showing where the charges were filed
- Child sexual exploitation backgrounder.
- Background material on the investigation from the OPP.
OPP Supt. Don Bell called the arrests "another wakeup call to those who commit these monstrous crimes against children."
The OPP released an animated video showing IP address locations where child pornography had been downloaded or accessed.
The animation shows map locations in almost every area of Ontario.
"This is not just a big city problem," said OPP Insp. Scott Naylor, manager of the OPP's child exploitation unit.
The investigation was conducted by the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet, an umbrella group that co-ordinates the work of multiple police forces across the province. The strategy is an effort to have police in different jurisdictions working together to share information and combat what they say is a growing problem.
Frank Goldschmidt, the OPP's provincial strategy co-ordinator, said most of the people charged are not known to each other and were acting individually, not as a group.
Goldschmidt also said it's not possible that those charged simply stumbled upon the images during internet searches for other material.
"They go to the places on the internet where children are present," he said. "They go online, and they are very good at what they do in seeking out children that they want to prey upon."
He said in some of the cases, victims were encouraged to turn on their cameras to produce the material. In other instances, the material was photographed directly by the person charged.
Police at the news conference encouraged parents to take an active role in learning what their children are doing online.
OPP says Investigators identified 7000 IP addresses over 180 days as suspects child porn download sites #sl— Steven D'Souza (@cbcsteve) September 25, 2014