Officers with the Saskatchewan RCMP and Prince Albert Police Service were recently involved in an online investigation that led to the rescue of nine child abuse victims in Philippines.
Staff Sgt. Scott Lambie, provincial coordinator of the RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE), said the case began in February with a child pornography investigation in Saskatoon. Lambie said the RCMP executed a search warrant and performed a forensic examination of the 27-year-old male suspect’s electronic devices, which revealed he was paying women in the Philippines to exploit their children over the Internet.
“It started out with a single image shared over a social media application,” Lambie said. “The case started small and it exploded.”
The Saskatoon man was charged and sentenced in provincial court, but Lambie said the investigation did not end with him. After charges were laid, Lambie said investigators turned their efforts toward tracking down the victims of the abuse overseas and began working with Philippine National Police and other international law enforcement agencies. In November an adult woman was arrested in the Northern Leyte Province in the Philippines, Lambie said, and nine children were rescued as a result of the Saskatchewan investigation.
The rescued children, seven girls and two boys all between the ages of two and nine, are now safe in the hands of Philippine social services, he said.
“It’s very rewarding, especially for the investigators who are doing the hard work on these files, to actually rescue some kids,” Lambie said. “This is what they’re doing it for – making sure the kids are safe.”
Lambie said the provincial ICE Unit includes members from the RCMP and several partner agencies, including the Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina police services.
“We have a Prince Albert Police officer and an RCMP member who work directly out of the Prince Albert Police Service,” he said.
Lambie said the Prince Albert ICE officers were involved in the case in a supporting role and provided valuable assistance to the Saskatoon office during the lengthy and complex investigation. The case was made much easier due to collaboration between law enforcement agencies, he said, both locally and internationally.
On Twitter: @TMacPhersonNews
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