**** RCMP Media Release
RCMP arrest leads to sentence of Ottawa man in international child porn investigation
A small tip from investigators abroad kicked off an investigation that ended in one of the RCMP’s largest seizures of child sexual abuse imagery. Read how investigators at the National Child Exploitation Crime Centre completed the complex case.
When international police found a possible link between a Canadian man and a group of transnational child sex offenders in January 2020, the RCMP launched a complex international investigation.
Five months later, RCMP officers arrested Ottawa resident Tristan Alexandre Perrier on charges of making, possessing and distributing child pornography.
RCMP Cpl. Stephen Ludlow led the investigation, navigating the complexities of international police work, the dark web and the online sexual abuse of children.
It came down to confirming the identity of the suspect and investigating what his involvement was,” says Ludlow. “
The information was very vague and just one image led them to believe the man could be a Canadian.”
Using image analysis, investigators determined the then unidentified man had travelled abroad with known child sex offenders and spent time with children depicted in sexual abuse imagery.
Through investigative techniques and intelligence, they identified Perrier and found he had been creating child sexual abuse material and had a large presence on the dark web, which users can access only with specific software, configurations or authorization and does not track identifying information such as location.
The dark net poses some challenges because its intent is anonymity to hide from law enforcement and hide overall,” says Ludlow, a victim identification specialist at the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre (NCECC).
Categorizing computer content
While exercising multiple search warrants, more than 40 RCMP investigators seized multiple computers and electronic devices with millions of images and videos stored inside the suspect’s residence.
A team of eight investigators at the NCECC spent weeks going though the images and videos to determine the extent of Perrier’s criminal activity. Ultimately, more than a million files constituted child sexual abuse imagery.
RCMP Cpl. Yany Marchand-Vigneault with the NCECC worked on the technical side of the case digging through computers and analysing photos and videos.
Because of the amount of data seized, we relied on some of the tools to do that work for us,” says Marchand-Vigneault.
While investigators use computer software to find child abuse imagery found in previous investigations, they have to personally sift through all new and unique files to determine if they contain illicit content.
Encryption was another challenge for investigators as Perrier didn’t share all his passwords with police.
The fact that we were able to open the encrypted [folders] provided a lot of the evidence to support child pornography charges,” says Marchand-Vigneault.
Ontario Court Justice Robert Wadden sentenced Perrier to five and half years in prison stating that Perrier had “
glorified and memorialized” the sexual abuse of impoverished children by creating flashy magazine covers depicting it and contributed to an “
institutional form of sexual violence, which is akin to sexual slavery.”
While the work to determine the extent of Perrier’s criminal conduct supported his conviction, it also helps in identifying victims abroad. Investigators don’t believe Perrier was abusing children in Canada, but they’re assisting international partners in victim identification.
We work in real time with other victim identification specialists around the world on a daily basis,” says Cpl. Charity Sampson, an RCMP victim identification specialist who worked to categorize files in the Perrier investigation.
She says while the work can be challenging, knowing it helps save other children from abusive situations motivates those who investigate child exploitation.
We’re viewing and analyzing millions of images of children being sexually assaulted. It can seem overwhelming, but knowing that there are other investigators somewhere in the world trying to help the same child is motivation to work quickly and efficiently to find them,” says Sampson.
Despite being small in numbers, the skilled RCMP Victim Identification Unit and Internet Child Exploitation units across Canada are leaders in their craft. In 2020, investigators in Canada identified 277 Canadian victims of online child sexual abuse.
In June, members of the NCECC Victim Identification Unit participated in Europol’s ninth Victim Identification Task Force helping remove six child sexual assault victims from harm and identifying the likely country of origin for nearly 50 groups of files.