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Fantino leads Ontario-wide porn bust

31 arrested in raids across province

In what Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) commissioner Julian Fantino is calling the “largest investigation into child pornography in the province’s history,” police arrested 31 people in raids across the Ontario on Feb 4.

Fantino announced the arrests at a huge televised press conference on Jan 5.

Among those arrested are a 60-year-old man and two 14-year-old youths. Fantino said at a press conference that he was surprised alleged child abusers could be so young, though he noted that youth gang-members were getting younger all the time.

Others arrested in the raids included two 18-year-old men — one in Welland and one in London. Four of the men arrested are London, Ontario residents. The London Free Press published a list of their names and the towns in which they live. The Toronto Star also pblished on its website a list of the accused.

Fantino said the massive investigation is part of “the provincial strategy to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet” which he said was “created in August 2006 in response to the McGuinty government’s request that police develop a coordinated, province-wide approach to combating internet crimes against children.”

Police also announced the rescue of two alleged victims: a four-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.

“We have identified and ended the abuse for two children who were victims of these terrible crimes,” said OPP det staff-sgt Frank Goldsmith at the press conference.

Fantino said he would “hunt down child predators everywhere and eliminate the threat they pose to our children and our communities.”

Fantino also stated that “next to murderers” they were the “lowest type of criminal.” He also said that among the accused were “deviants who want to abuse our children.”

All 31 of those arrested are males ranging in age from 14 to 60.

The 93 charges include distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and make available child pornography, which account for most of the charges. Several accused were also charged with the more serious offences of sexual assault and sexual interference.

There was no discussion at the press conference about the sexual orientation of the accused. The alleged victims were both male and female.

In a voice often choking with rage and indignation, Fantino said the acccused were alleged to have committed crimes against “the most vulnerable members of our society — our children.” Fantino added that “the most fundamental responsibility of our society is to protect our children.”

Eighteen local police forces were involved in the province-wide investigation along with the OPP Child Exploitation Section. Most were represented at the press conference.

The 31 men arrested are set to appear in court later this week.