Police target online pedophiles with Operation Snapshot
Police say a teenage boy in Saskatoon has been "rescued" from abuse thanks to a wide-sweeping crack-down on child pornography that has also resulted in more than 15 arrests.
Details of "Operation Snapshot" were released at the RCMP "F" Division headquarters in Regina Wednesday morning. The effort was headed-up by the RCMP's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (CPCMEC) but involved 14 different police agencies across western and northern Canada.
The goal was to make a co-ordinated effort to identify and arrest high-risk online child predators. They succeeded, opening 30 new investigation files in 15 communities. At least sixteen people were arrested, including 10 in Saskatchewan, two in Manitoba, three in Alberta, and one in the Northwest Territories.
Saskatoon Police Service detective sergeant Darren Parisien is currently working directly with the RCMP on child exploitation cases. He played a key role in organizing and executing the operation.
"They're all new investigations," he explained to reporters. "I think it's a lot. For these police agencies to try and pool their resources I think it's a very good number. I know in the national project in 2009 similar to this there were 57 investigations nationally and that involved hundreds of police officers. In this case we're talking about 25 or 30 police officers who pooled their resources over a four month period."
Among the files that made up "Operation Snapshot" was the case of a 37-year-old Saskatoon man who can't be named. Parisien says their investigation uncovered five years of abuse the man perpetrated against the son of the family he was living with.
"At the time of our search warrant back in June the child was 14. The abuse spanned five years going back to when the child was eight or nine years old...He was charged, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced."
That man is currently serving a 30-month sentence at the Prince Albert Penitentiary. However, he also faces additional charges of production of child pornography, involving that same child, and further charges of a sexual nature that are separate from those concerning that child.
Other arrests in Saskatchewan are as follows:
- Brandon McKay, 21, Prince Albert. Charged with possession of child pornography, making available child pornography, breach of court order.
- Sheldon Desnomie, 41, Prince Albert. Possession of child pornography, making available child pornography.
- Kelvin Burns, 43, Regina. Possession of child pornography, making available child pornography.
- Sean Ward, 59, Saskatoon. Possession of child pornography.
- Anthony Boyle, 24, Saskatoon. Possession of child pornography.
- Nicholas Boyle, 20, Saskatoon. Possession of child pornography
- Curtis Juhnke, 27, Saskatoon. Possession of child pornography, making available child pornography.
- Daryl Kroeker, 42, Swift Current. Possession of child pornography, making available child pornography.
- Unnamed young offender, 17, Biggar. Possession of child pornography, making available child pornography.
Most of the cases have reached their conclusions or are close. The Northwest Territories arrest hasn't resulted in charges yet, as police are still conducting forensic testing on 15 computers that were seized from the suspect's home.
Inspector Pierre Leduc with the CPCMEC emphasized the importance of this kid of wide-sweeping collaboration between police services.
"No single agency can lead with these crimes on their own. We continually work together with our partners to ensure the safety and security of our children wherever they live."
Leduc stressed that the success of their western Canadian efforts will lead to similar projects in eastern Canada as well. Sgt Parisien is adamant that the officers involved in "Operation Snapshot” have the latest training and technology at their disposal and can help their eastern counterparts carry out those operations.
Parisien also stressed that everyone in Canada needs to be vigilant when it comes to on-line exploitation.
"There's offenders in every single community and there's kids in every single community. Where those two happen to cross paths, that's where victims are born."
Parisien says the most important thing to remember is that parents need to be involved in their children's on-line lives, monitoring their activity and ensuring that any kind of suspicious activity is reported to web sites like www.cybertip.ca.
"If they don't do that that's our weakest link. If we can partner up and work together that way we'll save more kids, we'll prevent more abuse, and we'll hold those individuals who prey on our children accountable."
Edited by CJME's Karen Brownlee.