Canada

40 per cent increase in child exploitation due to ‘digital dependency’: ALERT

EDMONTON —
ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit received a record number of case referrals in 2020, representing a 40 per cent increase over the year before.

In a news release Tuesday, ALERT said ICE and police counted 2,100 intakes in 2020.

“This is a concerning consequence of our digital dependency during the pandemic,” Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO and superintendent, said.

ALERT released a year-by-year comparison of how intakes have increased by directing more tools and resources to ICE units:

2020 to 2021

2,136

2019 to 2020

1,555

2018 to 2019

1,237

2017 to 2018

903

2016 to 2017

894

2015 to 2016

749

The unit also announced 60 charges laid between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2021, against 24 people on Tuesday. According to ALERT, there is no link between the suspects other than the nature of the offences allegedly committed against children.

According to ALERT, with provincial funding ICE has doubled in size with the addition of new investigators, forensic technicians, analysts and disclosure clerks, along with new technologies and software applications.

“We are prepared to travel to every corner of the province in order to stop child sex predators,” Lakusta added.

The unit is of the largest of its kind in the country. ALERT was established and funded by the Alberta government to tackle serious and organized crime.

“The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that tears at the fabric of society and preys on our most vulnerable,” Kaycee Madu, the minister of justice and solicitor general, said.

“Increased provincial funding is enabling ALERT to double the size of its ICE unit, ensuring it has the tools and resources to track down predators who commit these heinous acts and bring them to justice.”

According to ALERT, with the help of the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre each of the 24 people have been charged with at least one child pornography charge:  

  • Chase Viau, 23, from Edmonton
  • Van Linh Nguyen, 24, from Edmonton
  • Krishnamoort Nalla Naidu, 38, from Edmonton
  • Jordan MacDonald, 30, from Edmonton
  • Mica LePage, 44, from Edmonton
  • James Merrison, 21, from Edmonton
  • Kevin Dykstra, 35, from Barrhead
  • Michael Antonio, 25, from Calgary
  • Brian Harrison, 35, from Calgary
  • James Kydd, 39, from Calgary
  • Eric Bultmann, 30, from Calgary
  • Bryan Hillman, 39, from Calgary
  • Jeremy Henderson, 42, from Okotoks
  • Christopher Hoffner, 34, from Medicine Hat
  • Richard Westland, 45, from Medicine Hat
  • Ivan Scott, 47, from Cochrane
  • Traline Munn, 44, from Cold Lake
  • Curt Backlund, 48, from Grande Prairie
  • Stedson McDonald, 32, from Grande Prairie
  • Jerry Lee Thompson, 47, from Fort MacLeod
  • Brad Bailey, 19, from Marlboro
  • Brett Beer, 54, from Onoway
  • Cris Marshall, 29, man from Stettler
  • Hunter Tonneson, 20, from Blackfalds

Anyone with information on child exploitation offences is encourage to contact police or cybertip.ca.


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