Eight people have been charged with 36 criminal offences during a joint investigation conducted by the OPP and the Peterborough Police Service.
The investigation, dubbed Project Peacehaven, addressed concerns over how popular social media applications are used by those looking to sexually abuse children, police said.
“Trained investigators utilized online undercover techniques to access online chatrooms and social media applications designed for youth to proactively identify, locate and arrest persons looking to sexually exploit children in Peterborough,” reads a media release from police.
The investigation took place over three days.
“Investigators communicated with 36 suspects beyond simple introductions. The communications established ages which were well outside the consensual parameters established by the Criminal Code and included inappropriate sexualized content,” a media release reads.
“Approximately 30 per cent of these suspects were identified, located and arrested after committing criminal offences.”
Police say that six of the suspects were arrested when they arrived at a set location to meet the child for sexual purposes. Two others were identified solely through online investigations and arrested outside of a set meeting location.
“One suspect drove over 290 kilometers to meet a child for sexual purposes.
A repeat offender was arrested who had just completed their ten-year term on the Ontario Sex Offender Registry,” the media release reads.
The three-day investigation is a snapshot of the dangers children face online. Investigators accessed predicated online chat rooms and social media applications as millions of children do every day. To learn how to keep children safe, go to Canadian Centre for Child Protection. If you have information related to child sexual exploitation contact your local police or report to cybertip.ca.
“The importance of police services working together cannot be understated,” said Inspector Tina Chalk of the OPP’s exploitation and missing person section.
“We share our resources and our knowledge to identify those who seek to harm our children. There are no borders or jurisdictions in our fight against child exploitation.”
For a full list of those charged, click HERE.