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Toronto teacher among 350 arrested in child porn ring bust

A teacher from Cosburn Middle School in the east end was one of almost 350 suspects rounded up in a massive international child porn ring allegedly based in Toronto.

James Coulter, 43, has been charged with three counts each of possessing, accessing and making child porn.

He’s been on assignment and not in class since 2011, when he was charged with a similar offence.

More than 380 children around the globe have been rescued as part of Project Spade, Toronto police said in a news conference on Thursday.

Most of the videos were shot in Romania and Ukraine and distributed from Toronto to customers around the world.

The suspected ringleader, 42-year-old Brian Way, was arrested in May after allegedly having run the operation since 2005.

“The investigation revealed that this individual was running an exploitation movie production and distribution company from a Toronto address,” Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins of the sex crimes unit said.

AzovFilms.com allegedly sold films – both over the mail and online – that were consistent with child pornography, Beaven-Desjardins said. During its years of operation, the company took in $4 million.

Police say Way is the owner-operator of Azov Films.

The investigation began in October 2010, when undercover police made contact online with a Toronto man accused of sharing graphic images of young boys.

Toronto police worked with dozens of agencies, including the United States Postal Inspection Service, in their investigation.

On May 1, 2011, police executed search warrants around Toronto, one of which was at Azov Films. Police said the studio was located in the west end and 45 terabytes of video were seized.

Beaven-Desjardins said the pornography allegedly found at his home “detailed horrific sexual acts against very young children, some of the worst that [officers] had ever viewed. “

Way faces 24 charges, including instructing a criminal organization. It’s the first time in Canada this charge has been laid in relation to a child exploitation investigation.

Of the people arrested, 50 are from Ontario and another 58 are from other parts of Canada. Police say school teachers, doctors, volunteers, pastors and priests were among those arrested.  Police say 76 were arrested in the United States and 164 internationally. The investigation is ongoing and there will be further arrests, Beaven-Desjardins said.