Friday, November 15, 2013

Project Spade: 348 People Arrested Worldwide in Child Pornography Bust

Police have arrested 348 people in dozens of countries on child pornography charges connected with an online video company based in Toronto.
The company, Azov Films, sold DVDs by mail and streamed online videos of naked Eastern European boys ranging in age from toddlers to teens. The company claimed the films were naturist movies.
A three-year investigation found more than 350,000 images and 9,000 videos of child sexual abuse – “some of the worst (officers) have seen,” Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, head of the Toronto police’s sex crimes unit, told a news conference Thursday.
Company president Brian Way, from Toronto, was arrested in May 2011 after an undercover operation. Police allege he taught people how to create the videos he distributed.
On Thursday, hundreds of customers and amateur filmmakers were arrested – 108 in Canada, 76 in the United States and 164 in other countries, including Spain, Sweden and Australia. Investigators said more arrests are likelyforthcoming.
"Of concern to the investigators was the number of people (arrested) who have close contact with children,”  Beaven-Desjardins said. “The arrests included 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, 32 people who volunteered with children, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors or priests and three foster parents.”
Along with Project Spade's 348 arrests, 386 children were rescued worldwide.
Toronto police said the youngsters being exploited were mainly from Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Romania and that adults, including some parents, were paid for videos and images of naked children.
However, detectives believe that many of the parents may have been naive or unaware that photographs and videos of their naked children were wanted for sexual purposes.
Toronto police have been investigating the suspected online pedophile ring since October 2010 and notified police forces around the world through Interpol.
Footage of children was made into films and sold online at Detectives seized more than 45 terabytes of data and found more than four million Canadian dollars linked to the company.
Police forces in Ireland, Australia, Hong KongNorway, Spain, Greece, Gibraltar, South Africa, Mexico and the US Postal Service were involved in the investigation.
As part of the investigation, Way's home and a business premises in Toronto were searched.
He was subsequently charged with operating a website that sold and distributed child exploitation films and images to people around the world.
He was also charged with possessing child porn, money laundering and instructing the commission of an offence for a criminal organisation, the first time this charge has been made in Canada in relation to a child exploitation material investigation.

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