Barrie men among 107 charged in provincewide child exploitation investigation: OPP

428 charges were laid after 255 investigations

Provincial police say child exploitation is on the rise after more than 100 people, including two Barrie men, were charged in a provincewide investigation.

OPP Det. Insp. Jordan Whitesell says an investigation in October dubbed Project Maverick led to 107 arrests involving 61 alleged victims.

Whitesell says 428 charges were laid after 255 police investigations across the province.

The report says of those charged, five are from Simcoe County and Muskoka – two from Barrie, and one each from Collingwood, Victoria Harbour, and Huntsville.

OPP Det. Sgt. Kari Dart says the investigation involved 27 police forces, counting ones in Barrie, as part of Ontario’s strategy to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet.

Police say the accused in the investigation are all between 18 to 86 years of age, while the alleged victims range in age from infancy to adulthood.

Whitesell says police forces have seen “huge increases” in the number of victims, arrests, charges laid, police investigations and repeat offenders related to child exploitation since 2006.

– With files from Canadian Press

Banner image – file photo – Barrie 360