341 people, including 108 Canadians and 76 Americans, have been arrested in an international child pornography ring that was largely centred around a Toronto-based film company that distributed images and videos across the globe. The three-year investigation included Canadian and international law enforcement agencies and rescued. Dubbed Project Spade, police said the effort resulted in 386 children being saved from exploitation.
Police first became aware in 2010 that Toronto-based Azov Films was distributing pornographic images and videos of children as well as streaming them on its website. In 2011, police carried out a search warrant in Toronto’s west end. Azov was shut down and its owner, 42-year-old Brian Way was arrested. More than 45 terabytes of data were seized.
Way was charged with multiple counts related to child pornography, including selling and distributing child pornography and instructing commission of offence for criminal organization.
The company had been operating since 2005 and had revenues in excess of $4-million. For approximately $40 customers could buy about an hour of video, and receive photos at a discount, delivered online or by mail, police say.
Some of the children exploited in the films were as young as five. Azov commissioned videographers around the world to take pictures and images that the company would subsequently distribute through the mail and online. Many of the victims were from Ukraine and Romania. Many of the pictures and videos were shot in people’s apartments, back yards and “dingy saunas.”
24 Canadian children were rescued as a result of Project Spade. The children were not necessarily involved in the production of Azov material, and their exploitation was discovered when police were investigating people who bought material from the company.
At the home of a retired teacher, they found 350,000 pictures and more than 9,000 video showing child sexual abuse. They say some of the children were known to the man, who is also accused of abusing a child in his family. Spinoff investigations led to caches of images and hundreds of children from around the world. At least two teachers and nine medical professionals were among the Canadians arrested.
Beaven-Desjardins said Toronto police subsequently shared the company’s customer databases with other Canadian as well as international law enforcement agencies.
Information on Azov led to more than 150 law enforcement actions against Americans who were purchasing material from the company, including persons in the District of Columbia.
Project Spade arrests by the numbers
- Ontario: 50
- Rest of Canada: 58
- United States: 76
- International: 164
- 40 teachers
- 9 doctors and nurses
- 32 volunteers
- 6 law enforcement personnel
- 9 faith leaders
- 3 foster parents
Help fight child abuse in the United States, sign the petition to save 10 year old Ariana-Leilani and the fight for children’s rights to be protected:
- Azov-films Used for Blackmail? (aangirfan.blogspot.com)
- Hundreds arrested in huge porn ring (radionz.co.nz)
- Canada Says 386 Kids Rescued in Child Porn Bust (kvue.com)
- Hundreds held over Canada child porn (bbc.co.uk)
- University of Alberta professor among hundreds arrested in international child porn investigation: police (globalnews.ca)
- Child porn bust: Anatomy of an international child pornography investigation (thestar.com)
- Police Arrest Hundreds In Global Child Porn Sting (wnyc.org)
- US Press Conference Highlights the Case of 9 Year Old Ariana-Leilani Falling Through the Cracks in the USA
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- T.B.’s Letter of Support for Ariana-Leilani to Get Life Saving G-CSF (Neupogen)
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