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Six Toronto men arrested in global child sexual abuse investigation


Toronto police have arrested six men in connection with a two-year global child sexual abuse probe that has arrested approximately 700 people worldwide.

On Wednesday, Toronto police discussed details of “Operation H,”- an operation launched in Oct. 2019 by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) after it was alerted to more than 90,000 suspect accounts involved in the sharing of child sexual abuse material.

“This material depicted some of the most horrific abuse of children investigators had ever seen. In an effort to identify and locate offenders and victims they embarked on a global effort sharing information with other police agencies around the world,” Toronto Deputy Chief of Police Myron Demkiw said during a Wednesday morning news conference.

Over a 24-month period, New Zealand’s DIA coordinated with police forces in 13 countries, including Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Hungary and Croatia.

After information was shared with Toronto police, six men were located and arrested in connection with “Operation H.”

Thirteen countries were involved in "Operation H." (TPS Handout)

“The people that were charged were people who came through the tips from the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs’ information and they were charged with a variety of offenses, but in most cases just the possession and distribution of certain files that came up on the New Zealand investigation,” Toronto Insp. Justin Vander Heyden said.

The suspects are facing a total of 19 charges related to the possession, access and distribution of child sexual abuse material.

All of the suspects are from Toronto and five have been identified as:

  • Chris Green, 41
  • Hugo Molina-Macias, 40
  • Bryan Johnson, 41
  • Gadi Braude, 31
  • Dustin Leek, 36

One man who was arrested in June 2020 has since died and no further information will be disclosed, police said.

Johnson was convicted of access and possession of child pornography and voyeurism, and was sentenced in Sept. 2021

The four other men are still appearing before the courts.

New Zealand officials said the investigation has been the “largest and most challenging” online child exploitation operation led out of the country.

“Many people who view material of this kind will go on to physically offend against children, it is imperative that we are able to bring them to justice before they are able to do more damage,” Tim Houston, manager of New Zealand’s digital child exploitation team and lead for “Operation H,” said in a press release.

New Zealand’s DIA said the operation has resulted in 836 cases investigated internationally, 46 arrests in New Zealand and 146 children safeguarded internationally, including 12 in Canada.

Over 800 cases were investigated in "Operation H." (TPS Handout)

Vander Heyden added that approximately 700 people have been arrested and charged internationally in connection with “Operation H.”

He also noted that some files flagged in the probe were linked to other child exploitation accused persons in Toronto and are currently being investigated.

“We will continue to pursue investigative leads in relation to ‘Operation H.’ We will continue to work diligently with law enforcement partners around the world to arrest defenders and rescue children,” Vander Heyden said.

In 2021, Toronto police said its child exploitation section was alerted to 1,900 occurrences of child pornography. Top Stories

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