Police in Gatineau, Que. say several teenage boys are facing child pornography charges after allegedly sharing or selling private images of teenage girls.
In a press release, Gatineau police (SPVG) said their investigation had been underway for a few weeks and uncovered a network for the distribution of these images among male teens attending several different schools in Gatineau.
The victims' photos were being passed around without their knowledge, police said. They said the investigation indicates that the images were pirated from a private, password-protected Snapchat library.
Police did not say how many accused suspects had been arrested and charged, nor did they say how many victims there were. Police are also not revealing any information about the accused, including which schools they attended, because they are minors. Officers are working with each school connected with the investigation.
The accused face charges of possession and distribution of child pornography and internet luring and have all been released with conditions.
Police also said that all of the teens involved, both the accused and the victims, will be receiving psychological support.
The investigation is ongoing in order to determine whether other teens may have been part of this network and whether there are other victims. There may be more arrests, police added.
Anyone with information is asked to call the SPVG infoline at 819-243-4636, option 5.
Police are reminding parents to have frank and open discussions with their teenage children about their online activities, including reminding them about the risks of taking and sharing intimate photos and videos.
"Teens must be cautious whenever they use their electronic devices. Password protected hidden libraries and the use of ephemeral modes will not protect them against ill-intentioned individuals or friends or against account pirating or theft of private photos," police said. "SPVG also wants to remind everyone that the possession and distribution of youth pornography, even if everyone involved consented, is a crime."