- Our Town
Williams Lake man among those arrested in child pornography investigation
A 65-year-old Williams Lake man is among 11 B.C. men charged as a result of nation-wide child pornography investigation.
Led by the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC), the investigation — Operation Snapshot III — began in February 2014 and involved more than 40 police agencies.
"There were 29 investigations in B.C., 22 of which were in communities policed by the RCMP," said Sgt. Rob Vermeulen of the BC RCMP. "To date the RCMP have laid 32 charges against 11 men and there are also a number of investigations that remain ongoing."
In addition to the arrest of more than 150 individuals across Canada, five children were removed from harm.
Two of the children were from B.C., Vermeulen confirmed, adding further information regarding the circumstances will not be released to protect their privacy
'For every person arrested and prosecuted, dozens of potential future victims are saved from harm,' said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson in an RCMP press release. 'Over the past three years, Snapshot has built on the dedication, partnership and collaborative efforts of police agencies, sending a message to would-be abusers that we will not be deterred from protecting children.'
The RCMP said the operation targeted child sex offenders who collect, possess, share, make available, distribute and produce child sexual exploitation material online.
The operation involved 167 investigations that were conducted by municipal, provincial and federal police services, which resulted in the seizure of hundreds of computers and hard drives along with nearly two million images or videos.
Throughout the investigation, the RCMP's NCECC ensured that communication was maintained between agencies working in parallel on investigations as well as the sharing of information to identify and remove child victims of online sexual exploitation.
"Prevention is key in combating internet facilitated child sexual exploitation,'" said RCMP Superintendent John Bilinski, Officer in Charge of the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploitation Children/Behavioural Sciences Branch.
"Empowering children, parents, friends and teachers on how to combat internet predators can make a difference. It is crucial for people to educate themselves about who to trust, where to find help and how to take action."
Operation Snapshot III follows the two previously successful operations: Operation Snapshot in 2012, targeted individuals in the Prairie and Northern regions of Canada, and Operation Snapshot II in 2013, focused on individuals in Atlantic Canada. The two operations combined were responsible for rescue of five children, the arrest of 54 individuals and the seizure of millions of child sexual exploitation images and countless leads in other child sexual exploitation cases.
The RCMP's NCECC leads in these types of investigations, through coordinating information between jurisdictions and agencies as well as conducting training, research, establishing best practices and diligently working to combat this persistent issue that involves the most vulnerable members of our society; our children.
The Canadian Center of Child Protection and Cybertip.ca provide invaluable educational material and information on reporting these crimes. The Public Safety website Getcybersafe.gc.ca also has important information about protecting yourselves and children on-line.
With files from the RCMP