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Four arrested as major Dutch child-porn case reaches into Quebec Add to ...

From a photo of a toddler e-mailed in Massachusetts to a sex predator in Amsterdam, the global reach of the child-pornography trade can be seen in a case that reached Canada Tuesday, with the morning arrests of four men in Quebec.

The Sûreté du Québec and police in Quebec City and Gatineau also executed five search warrants and confirmed that the arrests stemmed from a major child-abuse investigation in the Netherlands, where a daycare worker, Robert Mikelsons, has been charged with molesting 52 boys and 15 girls.

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Mr. Mikelsons, whose case shocked the Netherlands, was arrested after law-enforcement agents in Boston found a photo of a victim and eventually identified the child’s clothing as being of Dutch origin.

“After Mr. Mikelsons’ arrest in 2010, the Dutch police analyzed his computer material. They found Quebeckers were among his international network. They contacted us and we began an investigation in December,” said Sûreté du Québec Sergeant Geneviève Bruneau.

It began in the fall of 2009, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Boston were targeting a suspect who used the online name “Babytodd,” according to a criminal complaint in Massachusetts District Court.

Babytodd chatted on forums for pedophiles, unaware that two of his interlocutors were police informants. One evening of October 2009, he e-mailed an informant a photo of a two-year-old boy whose crotch was exposed.

The ICE agents first connected Babytodd’s Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to a downtown Boston hotel managed by 47-year-old Robert Diduca. Another IP address was linked to Mr. Diduca’s home. On Nov. 10, 2010, he was arrested and eventually convicted on child-pornography charges.

More than 27,000 pornographic files were found on a memory card at his home, including 30 more photos and videos of the two-year-old.

Photos of the toddler were sent to Interpol to solicit the help of other police forces. Within days, the Netherlands national police contacted the Boston agents to say that the toddler’s shirt and stuffed toy were of Dutch origin.

A month later, Dutch television showed a cropped, sanitized photo of the boy. The toddler was identified and Mr. Mikelsons, 27, and his 37-year-old husband, Richard van Olffen, were charged.

A statement last August by Dutch prosecutors alleged that he had been using Tor, a network that makes Web surfing anonymous by routing requests through hundreds of computers.

The statement said police got court authorization to break into a dozen hidden websites where more than 220,000 images and videos were found. Investigators erased images where they could and elsewhere left warnings stamped with their police logo.

A Sûreté officer said there were four arrests but five addresses were searched Tuesday because investigators weren’t able to connect the fifth location to a confirmed suspect, indicating that Dutch police provided their Canadian police counterparts with only IP addresses.

In recent weeks, the federal government has been fiercely criticized for Bill C-30, which would compel Internet companies to provide subscriber information without a warrant when requested by police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Competition Bureau.

Already, most major Canadian Internet providers, including Bell and Vidéotron in Quebec, voluntarily supply subscribers’ names and addresses without a court order when police investigate child abuse.

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