Gatineau police arrest 6 alleged pedophile hunters
Police in Gatineau, Que., say they've arrested six suspects accused of "hunting" people they thought were pedophiles in recent months.
While the Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau offered few details in a French-language news release Thursday, similar movements have seen people create fake online profiles to catch the interest of a target, lure them to a meeting, record the ensuing confrontation and post videos online to publicly shame the suspected predators.
Gatineau police issued a news release about the trend in late January, and said they met with one of the people thought to be behind the local movement to talk about the risks involved.
Police have urged citizens not to take justice into their own hands, warning such confrontations could not only put their own safety at risk, but also jeopardize police investigations.
"We understand that people will want to help the police but this is not the way to do it. If you want to help if you witness any criminal infraction you can call police," said police spokesperson Andrée East.
After weeks of investigation, Gatineau police have arrested the following six suspects:
Jessy Chartrand, 27, from Gatineau.
Joey Chartrand, 25, from Gatineau.
André Chevalier-Robitaille, 40, from Luskville, Que.
Liam Dupont, 24, from Gatineau.
Normand Payant, 26, from Gatineau.
Mélissa Breton, 25, from Gatineau.
All six will face at least one charge each of criminal harassment, police said, while Joey Chartrand faces eight counts of criminal harassment.
With the exception of Breton, each accused will also face at least one charge of intimidation.
With the exception of Chevalier-Robitaille, each accused will also face one charge of distributing child pornography, and all but Jessy Chartrand and Breton will face at least one charge of forcible confinement.
Investigators seized improperly stored firearms and computer gear as they carried out their search warrants, police said.
Gatineau police were helped by provincial police and officers from Collines-de-l'Outaouais, where Luskville is located.