ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) laid 63 charges related to child pornography between June 20 and September 17. The suspects come from 14 Alberta communities, including eight from Edmonton, two from Sherwood Park, one from Spruce Grove, and one from Morinville.
Police say there is no definitive link between the suspects. But ICE believes a rise in investigation referrals are a result of people relying on the internet amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The internet isn’t anonymous and these arrests demonstrate ALERT’s willingness to travel to all corners of the province to make arrests, put predators behind bars, and keep kids safe,” Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO, said in a Wednesday new release.
Justice minister Kaycee Madu said those who exploit children will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Government of Alberta will ensure our law enforcement has the tools and resources to track down child predators and bring them to justice,” Madu said in a release.
Most of the arrests came from referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre which works with internet providers and social media companies to investigate online child exploitation.
Those arrested in Edmonton include: Michael Ciesla (32), Gerald Donel (57), Richard Lepchuk (59), Alasdair Mills (61), David Peeke, (45), Christopher Piers-Hanley (31), Kalon Speech (30), and Laurence Thrasher (40).
Kevin Borchert (29) and a 16-year-old young offender, both from Sherwood Park, face child pornography-related charges. Brock Hann (21) of Morinville, and Troy Melnyk (49) of Spruce Grove have also been charged.
Calgary men charged include: David Cadieux (27), Christian Meier, (52), Andrew Stredick (30), Charles Tadashore (43), and Michael Vandermay (52).
Jospeh Cadrain (32) of Strathmore, Gary Campbell (28) of Lamont, Michael Courtepatte (44) of Athabasca, Victor Delage (29) of Wainright, Brian Farris (40) of Grande Prairie, Humberto Ferreyra (51) of Lake Louise, Coby Franz (42) of Alder Flats, Sean Giles (41) of Lethbridge, and Stephen Miehe (28) of Cardston also face charges.