Excellence in Investigation
The award for Excellence in Investigation went to two officers from our Criminal Investigation Bureau and an officer from the Ontario Provincial Police Child Exploitation Unit.
This award encompasses three, separate, complex, international child pornography, extortion and luring investigations and is being presented to Detective Constable Holly Murray, Detective Constable Andrew Smith, and OPP Detective Constable Kip Wohlert for their inter-agency cooperation, advanced investigative techniques and teamwork.
In early 2019, the South Simcoe Police Service were notified by the RCMP that a male suspect from Innisfil had been luring a 12-year-old girl from outside of Ontario and extorting her to engage in Child Pornography images and videos.
In February 2019, a search warrant was executed at an Innisfil residence and a 22-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with Child Luring, Child Pornography and extortion offences.
Evidence found in this investigation led led to the identification of other child victims living outside of Canada.
Investigators teamed up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Georgia and identified a 14-year-old girl who was about to board a Greyhound bus to come to Canada to be with the accused.
As a result of this investigation, the Innisfil accused was further charged with child luring and child pornography offences related to the young girl in Georgia.
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the accused plead guilty to a number of charges and is currently awaiting sentencing.
As investigators continued to work through this investigation in the fall of 2019, they also learned of another 10-year-old female victim from Innisfil who had sent intimate images of herself to an unknown person on a social media platform.
Detective Constables Smith and Wohlert once again joined forces with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and conducted a technical investigation that identified a suspect who was residing in Florida. Smith contacted the Punta Gorda Police Department in Florida and assisted them in furthering the investigation that eventually led to the arrest of the male in Florida.
Investigators also learned of a 13-year-old female victim from Bradford who had also shared sexually explicit images of herself to an unknown person through a social media platform. The suspect went so far as to send the victim a cellular phone so that she could communicate with him without her parents’ knowledge.
DCs Murray and Wohlert teamed up and initiated a covert operation where Wohlert assumed the identity of the victim and communicated with the suspect gathering valuable evidence.
In March of 2020 officers in Baldwin Park California executed search warrants on the suspect’s house and an overwhelming amount of evidence was located with respect to the Bradford victim.
These investigations once again shed the light on our vulnerable youth who are sadly being exploited through the sharing of personal images and we cannot stress more the importance of parents educating their children on the proper use of the internet.
DCs Murray, Smith and Wohlert were recognized for the excellence in investigations and the teamwork that resulted in these international child exploitation cases coming to a successful conclusion, demonstrating the value of collaboration.