March 2, 2022
Toronto police say they have charged six men as part of an international investigation into child sexual abuse material that began two and a half years ago.
Deputy Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw and Insp. Justin Vander Heyden discussed “Operation H” at a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday morning.
“Two years ago, our law enforcement partners in New Zealand were made aware of 90,000 suspect accounts involved in the sharing of child sexual abuse material,” Demkiw said.
“This material depicted some of the most horrific abuse of children investigators had ever seen.”
Demkiw said New Zealand officials embarked on a “global effort,” sharing information with police agencies around the world, including the Toronto Police Service.
“Our exceptional investigators in the child exploitation section became one of the key players in what became known as ‘Operation H,’” Demkiw said.
Vander Heyden told reporters that the investigation began in September 2019 when an electronic service provider uncovered child sexual abuse material on their servers and notified New Zealand officials.
An international group of investigators then identified users around the world, he said.
“Because of the information shared with the Toronto police, six men were identified, located and arrested by members of the child exploitation section,” Vander Heyden said.
“Together, they were charged with 18 offences related to the possession, access, and distribution of child sexual abuse material, among other charges.”
Vander Heyden said four of the men are still before the courts, one has been convicted and is in jail, and one is deceased.
Overall, Vander Heyden said New Zealand officials have indicated around 700 arrests have been made as part of “Operation H.”
He said the investigation is ongoing.