13 men charged in Alberta child luring bust

Thirteen men have been charged with child luring and other child exploitation offences following a cross-border investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT).

Investigation targeted men who were trying to arrange sex with children

ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation unit has arrested 13 men in a child luring investigation. (CBC)

Thirteen men have been charged with child luring and other child-exploitation offences following a cross-border investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

The men were arrested after an eight-month investigation targeting suspects who were trying to arrange sex with children, Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp of ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit said Wednesday.

The children ranged in age from 10 to 16. The accused were aged 18 to 51. Seven of the suspects are from Edmonton.

The men used social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, Camp said, but also video gaming communications, where children thought they are interacting with a peer but it was actually an older man. 

"These individuals have showed up to meet for sex and they've been arrested at meet points for sex with kids," said Camp.

He urged parents and guardians to remain vigilant. 

"Because the predatory behaviour of these individuals is quite clear. They will go online and they will attempt numerous times a week to engage with children. And if they try enough times they will find a child to meet, usually someone vulnerable."

About 50 computers and electronic devices were seized and analyzed as part of the investigation. A total of 69 charges have been laid, police said.

Arrests took place between February and October in Edmonton, St. Albert, Wainwright, Drayton Valley, Fort Saskatchewan and in Barrie, Ont.

Three suspects based in the United States were also identified and ICE forwarded information to law enforcement partners south of the border.

During the investigations and subsequent arrests, ICE worked in collaboration with a number of police agencies, including Wainwright RCMP, St. Albert RCMP, Drayton Valley RCMP, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP, the Edmonton Police Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Camp said the arrests send a message to perpetrators "to be wary that we're going to be there, we're looking for them all the time" and more arrests are coming.