Police say as many as 2,000 boys around the world may be victims connected to an online child sexual exploitation investigation.
The multi-jurisdictional investigation began after York Police raided a home in April 2014, as part of “Project Hydra,” after it was determined two child porn photos were uploaded to an online social networking application where strangers could exchange child pornography around the world.
Investigators found that the young person who uploaded the images had been a victim of child exploitation and was coerced to upload the photos.
The investigation expanded to include the Ontario Provincial Police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and Interpol.
Police said victims are believed to be in 17 countries including Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and Russia and possibly elsewhere.
York police Insp. Tim Kelly said 19 victims, both male and female, have since been identified, 41 people have been arrested and 110 charges have been laid.
— Tammie Sutherland (@citytammie) May 6, 2015
Seven suspects – from the age of 12 to 44 – were arrested in York Region and face 17 criminal charges. Insp. Kelly said infants were among the victims.
In the GTA there have been 10 arrest and 26 charges laid.
Project Hydra led RCMP in New Brunswick to arrest a 24-year-old Moncton man. He has been charged with several sex offences after it was alleged he lured boys between the age of 10 and 16 online by pretending to be a teenage girl.
Police said the suspect allegedly contacted the boys through live video chats through various social media sites and used a video of a teenaged girl to convinced the boys to undress and initiate sex acts, which he then taped and distributed via the Internet.
The incidents occurred as early as January 2012 until the fall of 2014. Police said the victims may not even know they have been victimized.
The suspects are believed to have used the following online user names and email addresses:
Video Chat Names
- Skype: Veronika.Maylae
- Vichatter: Veronika69
- Vero May (www.facebook.com/vero.may.3950)
The RCMP is asking anyone who may have had contact with this man to inform their local police.
Hydra: In Greek mythology a serpent like monster who grew two heads each time one was cut off. Fitting name for massive online porn bust.
— Avery Haines (@CityAvery) May 6, 2015