A man from Cochrane is among 24 suspects charged with 60 offences related to the online sexual exploitation of children. 

ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit has started off 2021 with a handful of arrests across the province. 

ICE received a record number of case referrals in 2020 and has been working with its police partners across Alberta to make arrests. 

There was nearly a 40 per cent jump in case referrals with over 2,100 intakes in 2020. 

That compares to these numbers from previous years. 

2020-21 – 2,136

2019-20 – 1,555

2018-19 – 1,237

2017-18 – 903

2016-17 – 894

2015-16 – 749

ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta says “This is a concerning consequence of our digital dependency during the pandemic. ALERT has responded by directing more tools and resources to our ICE units and we are prepared to travel to every corner of the province in order to stop child sex predators.”

New funding from the province means the ICE unit will double in size with the addition of investigators, forensic technicians, analysts, and disclosure clerks, along with new technologies and software applications. With now more than 50 positions, Alberta’s ICE unit is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

“The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that tears at the fabric of society and preys on our most vulnerable. 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,” said Hon. Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Between January 1 and March 31, 2021, ICE arrested 24 suspects.

Investigators don't believe there is a definitive link between the suspects other than the nature of the alleged offences.

Ivan Scott, a 47-year-old man from Cochrane is among the suspects.

He's been charged with at least one charge of child pornography.

The Cochrane RCMP detachment assisted in the investigation.

Also charged is:

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

Anyone with information about these investigations, or any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.