Two Ottawa men among more than 150 arrested in international child pornography investigation
The Toronto Police Service has announced the results of a years-long investigation into child sexual abuse and child pornography distribution.
Dubbed “Project Mercury”, the investigation began in 2014, after the National Crime Agency in the U.K. shared information with police services around the world, after discovering an online group allegedly involved in the sexual abuse of children.
Toronto Police describe alleged incidents of child sexual abuse that were streamed online, in which those watching could direct the action on the screen. These cases have resulted in dozens of arrests and the rescue of several children.
Since 2014, Toronto Police say 153 arrests have been made worldwide and 12 children have been rescued. Some of the people arrested have already been convicted, with sentences ranging between 30 months and 60 years in prison. Other cases remain before the courts.
16 Canadians have been identified in this investigation. Of those, two are from Ottawa.
Police say 35-year-old Michael Longbone and 38-year-old Luc Berthelot, of Ottawa, were charged and convicted in connection with this investigation.
Other Canadians arrested are from Toronto, Edmonton, Belleville, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, and unidentified towns in Quebec, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick.
Of these, three cases remain before the courts.
Speaking to the media in Toronto, Thursday, Melissa Ruiz, Attaché for U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in Ottawa said international investigations like this will continue.
“If you’re a predator, know that we will find you, arrest you, and ensure that you will face the full weight of the law.”