'Super rewarding': Sask. ICE investigation leads to rescue of 12 abused children in Philippines
Cpl. Jared Clarke says saving children is the goal of every ICE investigator
It began with a single image of child pornography uploaded to Skype.
But that upload was the tip-off for Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit to begin an investigation that would lead not only to charges, but also the rescue of abused children a world away.
"All in all now, we've got 12 kids in the Philippines that are certainly in a better spot than what they were a few months ago," said ICE's Cpl. Jared Clarke, after returning from a trip to the Philippines to provide testimony about the investigation.
The ICE unit began its investigation in February of 2017, which led to the arrest of Philip Chicoine of Saskatoon, with Clarke having described Chicoine's collection as "some of the worst stuff I've ever seen."
Chicoine was sentenced to 12 years in prison last November, the longest sentence ever handed to a convicted child pornographer in Saskatchewan's history.
But the case didn't end with Chicoine's arrest, as ICE began working with the Philippine National Police and the International Justice Mission in a further investigation.
Armed with chat histories, IP addresses, online personas and more, the investigation uncovered one suspect in the Philippines.
That led to the arrest of one female suspect, and while searching the home, police found and rescued nine children. Following up on other leads and other suspects led to another arrest, and the rescue of three more children.
[It] certainly keeps you driven to keep doing the work.- Cpl. Jared Clarke, Saskatchewan ICE Unit
Clarke said some were biological children of the adult suspects, while others were nieces and nephews of the suspects.
Others were neighbourhood children, caught out by supposed offers of food or treats, said Clarke.
Children share meal, laughs with police
Clarke recently made a trip to the Philippines to provide court testimony that will serve against one of the female suspects and her husband, both of whom are facing charges.
During the trip, he and RCMP officer Sgt. Jay Schooley also visited with the rescued children, who had been taken to a shelter.
"It was the quietest room of kids I've ever been in," Clarke said, recalling the only thing that seemed to get the kids going was the mention of a local fast food restaurant, Jollibee.
So he and Schooley came back after a day at court, armed with 40 happy meals of spaghetti and hamburgers from the restaurant.
"And then [we] got to sit there and eat some food and share some laughs with the kids," he recalled.
People often tell Clarke they couldn't do the same work he does, but he said that every ICE investigator in the world has the same goal — saving kids.
"This was a case where we obviously were able to do that and was super rewarding," he said. "It's success in that regard, and certainly keeps you driven to keep doing the work."