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Nov 19 2013

Canadian Police Make Huge Child Porn Bust

The Canadian police have busted a huge child pornography ring, resulting in the arrest of over 300 people around the world, including the Toronto-based producer of an apparently huge amount of child porn images and videos. They also claim to have “rescued” nearly 400 children, but it’s not clear what that means.

Nearly 400 children have been rescued and 348 adults arrested following an expansive and “extraordinary” international child pornography investigation, Canadian police announced Thursday.

The three-year project, named Project Spade, began when undercover officers with the Toronto Police Service Child Exploitation service made contact with a Toronto man allegedly sharing “very graphic images” of child sexual abuse in Oct. 2010, Toronto Police Service Chief William Blair said at a press conference on Thursday.

Police said their investigation revealed an entire child movie production and distribution company in Toronto operating via the web site azovfilms.com.

The site was run by 42-year old Brian Way, according to police, and sold and distributed images of child exploitation to people across the world.

Investigators catalogued hundreds of thousands of images and videos of “horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst they have ever viewed,” Inspector Beaven-Desjardins said at the press conference.

Police seized over 45 terabytes of data from the $4-million business that distributed to over 50 counties including Australia, Spain, Mexico, Sweden and Greece…

What was most alarming, Inspector Beaven-Desjardins said, was that many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children.

Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents, she said.

It’s not clear what they meant when they said that 396 children were “rescued from child exploitation.” Does that mean they actually found that many children being kept somewhere? That seems hard to believe. But what else could it mean to rescue them?

25 comments

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  1. 1
    rabbitscribe

    Yes, that’s exactly what it means. They’ve been investigating for three years. They arrested not only consumers but producers associated with the site. They identified 396 poor kids who appeared in the films and they are now in the custody of human beings. They wouldn’t have all been in one place (or on one continent) but that’s the total.

  2. 2
    Raging Bee

    They also claim to have “rescued” nearly 400 children…

    Maybe they identified that many children who were used in movies?

  3. 3
    Strewth

    I imagine in many cases the arrested adults were parents, authority figures, or otherwise caregivers of the exploited children, and directly or indirectly in the process of the arrest the children have been removed from the exploitative environment.

    So if, say, a coach is messing with three kids on each of four sports teams he coaches and sending the record of it to the web site, and the coach is arrested, those 12 kids have been ‘rescued’ as no one is currently exploiting them and sending the photos and videos online.

  4. 4
    eric

    Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents, she said.

    Here is a Bureau of Labor Statistics breakdown of employment by sector. Now I know it’s not completely applicable; this is for the US, rather than Canada or the world, and obviously the categories do not match up to the groups mentioned above (foster parents is not an ‘employment’ at all). But with those caveats in mind, it roughly looks like teachers are waaay overrepresented (about 10x what you’d expect by the null hypothesis), while the doctors and nurses are actually underrepresented from what you’d expect if employment wasn’t a correlated factor.

  5. 5
    David C Brayton

    Yeah, I too have been puzzled by those numbers. These rings are always busted in dramatic fashion and dozens or hundreds of people are arrested at once. And they say that hundreds of children are being rescued.

    It seems impossible that law enforcement can assemble cases against the dozens (hundreds) of different abusers in short order. It seems that hundreds of kids are being left in these terrible situations in order to make cases against other perpetrators.

    But to know that someone is being brutalized or in the clear and present danger of such harm, and not do anything in order to protect the investigation of other potential perpetrators….I could never ask such a victim to suffer additional abuse while the police build cases against others.

  6. 6
    Abby Normal

    When I first heard about this story on the radio they mentioned an undercover officer who had been on the inside for a year. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to infiltrate these people and then having to sit on the info for months and months. Telling yourself that waiting will do more good in the long run must be small comfort when children are being harmed. Respect.

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    David: I guess it’ll be awhile before we know how many people are actually CONVICTED of such crimes. If anyone even bothers to report on it…

  8. 8
    meg

    The press here in Oz were reporting that along with several arrests, children were ‘removed from harm’. From memory it was only a few, 3 or 4 I think (sorry, can’t look it up right now). Basically, the implication was they were living with people who were arrested. So those 400 children are probably in similar situations worldwide.

    @Abby – I agree. The one thing I’ve learnt from my policeman brother-in-law is that ops of all sorts take time. If they get who they’re after in 24 hours, there’s normally a lot of luck involved, or they know who it is straight away. A good op, that results in a good (meaning fair and secure conviction) will take time. The good cops hate it, but understand the importance of it.

  9. 9
    Pen

    I obviously don’t know, but I read a really distressing story in the Guardian by a young woman whose parents had used her as the primary breadwinner of the family for years by selling her out to this kind of organised production company. Kind of like some children work legally for better or for worse in modelling and acting. She lived at home, went to school, but evenings and weekends she worked, from a heartbreakingly early age. If something like that is happening I imagine rescuing the children means taking them into care.

  10. 10
    chilidog99

    I wonder if this has anything to do with that bizarre plane crash in the fog at Nashville airport a few weeks back?

    supposedly the pilot was under investigation by the Windsor police in a porn case.

  11. 11
    leni

    I wondered what they meant by that too, but during the NPR report I heard about it on it became clear what they meant. One case they mentioned was of a German (I think) expat living in Romania who was a karate instructor. He had been using the kids in his class to produce porn that was bought and sold by the Canadian. I’d count that as a save. Or a few dozen.

    That report was heartbreaking. I was in tears in the car on the way to work and white-knuckling the wheel I was so angry. They told the story of one boy who googled his name and could still find images of himself taken years earlier. And Abbey, if that was the same guy I heard interviewed, yeah. Respect.

  12. 12
    enki23

    It’s hard to fathom the fact that, apparently, there must be more than 45 *terabytes* of this shit in the entire world. 45 terabytes was what they claimed to seize. If, for instance, that’s all standard MPEG-4 encoded video, it would be well over 45,000 hours of video of children being harmed. Jesus Fucking Christ, humans can be horrible pieces of filth.

  13. 13
    colnago80

    Re enki23 @ #12

    Unfortunately, child porn is a very lucrative enterprise. Money is the root of all evil.

  14. 14
    Matt G

    Was Rob Ford among those arrested?

  15. 15
    Matt G

    I just read some of the comments at the NBC news site. Those people are out for blood! I wonder how their bloodlust would diminish if presented with the nine priests and pastors who were among those arrested. Another double standard for clergy and the rest of humanity.

  16. 16
    left0ver1under

    Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents, she said.

    I’ve been watching “To catch a predator” episodes on youtube in recent months. The list of those arrested for child pornography matches the professions lists from TV, people in respectable jobs trying to meet children for sex. And yes, it includes a number of teachers and religious types (pastors, rabbis). One arrested was a TSA employee, some others were members of the US military.

  17. 17
    dingojack

    Here is an example of how the Australian press are reporting it.
    Dingo
    ——-
    SLC – rectangles of cloth, paper or plastic don’t have states of mind because they are inanimate objects. ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. (I just had to quibble). ;)

  18. 18
    blurdo

    What is wrong with these people?

    Sadness, due to the horrifying people doing hideous things.

    Satisfaction, due to the innocent children saved and horrible people in custody.

    Let’s hope that the guilty are convicted and punished.

  19. 19
    meg

    Thanks Dingo – intended to find a link tonight. You’ve saved me the trouble!

  20. 20
    barry21

    I feel for the cops who must spend countless hours reviewing the images and footage. It must be traumatic.

  21. 21
    DaveL

    Investigators catalogued hundreds of thousands of images and videos of “horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst they have ever viewed,” Inspector Beaven-Desjardins said at the press conference.

    I really, really don’t want to know what it takes to prompt a seasoned child-porn investigator to say that.

  22. 22
    mildlymagnificent

    it would be well over 45,000 hours of video of children being harmed. Jesus Fucking Christ, humans can be horrible pieces of filth.

    One cop on Oz TV put it quite vividly.

    The material they’ve confiscated would take – all day, every day – two and a half years to watch. Break that down into 7 hour working days and see how many people will be obliged by their jobs to sit through weeks, months of this shit.

  23. 23
    dogmeat

    But with those caveats in mind, it roughly looks like teachers are waaay overrepresented (about 10x what you’d expect by the null hypothesis), while the doctors and nurses are actually underrepresented from what you’d expect if employment wasn’t a correlated factor.

    Hard to say. It depends on how they define “school teacher,” but yes, it appears that teachers are overrepresented, but I wouldn’t necessarily say way overrepresented.

    I’ve seen cases where the accused was listed as a “teacher” but when you dug into their actual role they worked in some other manner at the school, worked as a substitute, but lacked actual credentials and training, or worked with kids in other ways. If that were the case, then the number of “teachers” in this case could be close to double the number of actual classroom teachers, certified educators, etc. If they’re counting coaches, instructors (karate, etc.), tutors, etc., it could be even more inflated, but still likely overrepresented.

    But then if you look at the other professions, teachers are the single group that almost exclusively works with kids. Far more doctors and nurses work with adults than those who work with kids, same with law enforcement. I would think, given the recent high profile cases dealing with clergy, they would tend to stay away from something as risky as actually selling images, etc. By the time you’re done, the teachers are the single profession who spend 70-80% of their working time with the victims of this criminal activity. As an educator, I can say it is doubly horrifying.

  24. 24
    matty1

    @23 I’m fully aware that I’m quibbling with background facts to avoid the subject of this post, which I don’t want to think about too much. But wouldn’t a properly set up null hypothesis be that different groups have an equal probability of offending per hour spent with children or something like that?

  25. 25
    dogmeat

    @23 I’m fully aware that I’m quibbling with background facts to avoid the subject of this post, which I don’t want to think about too much.

    Don’t blame you, not one bit.

    But wouldn’t a properly set up null hypothesis be that different groups have an equal probability of offending per hour spent with children or something like that?

    I don’t think the probability is equal. My experience has been that many of the other professions listed are in contact with individual potential victims far less often and are generally more controlled circumstances while in contact, (IE surrounded by other adults, people coming in and out, etc.) In addition, I think the relationship that develops between educators and children is quite different than that between police offices, doctors, nurses, etc. Clergy would have a very similar interaction, but as I mentioned in 23, I think those who are still abusing their “flock” are likely to take major steps to hide that activity rather than sell the results of it for profit.

    Because of this unique interaction, in concert with the more extensive time spent with those individual kids, the potential is greater for the opportunity. A K-5 teacher is often with their kids six hours a day; the relationship that develops in that time is totally different than what is possible with the other professions listed, which may spend a few minutes or perhaps an hour with an individual kid at any given time. This is precisely why the betrayal is so much worse.

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