ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) has announced that they’ve made 14 arrests around northern Alberta stemming from use of internet child pornography as part of Operation ICE Reign. Two of them are from the Lakeland area.
The first was Peter Ritchie of the Kikino Metis Settlement. He was arrested on the suspicion of providing child porn to a prisoner in Knoxville, Tennessee. We reported on that story earlier here.
The second has been identified as 26-year-old Aaron Badger of Bonnyville. Not many details have been released on his case at this time, but ICE says none of the people arrested were in positions of authority or trust with children.
“Operation ICE Reign resulted in the seizure of thousands of photos and videos of children being abused and each one of those image represents a real-word victim. As a society we have a collective responsibility to protect children and shield them from sexual exploitation,” said ALERT Inspector Dave Dubnyk.
ICE says they have seen a 75 % increase in the number of new child sexual exploitation cases it investigates. Those include child pornography, computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the internet, voyeurism of victims under 18 and the child sex trade and tourism.
“While the internet did not create this problem, it has created unprecedented opportunities for offenders to access, possess and distribute child sexual abuse material-as well as actively participate in the market of child sexual abuse. Today’s announcement not only underscores how significant a problem this is, but also challenges the misconceptions about who and what type of individuals participate in these crimes against children,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
All of the published arrests occurred between June and October.