A Texas man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography offences involving a girl from Saskatchewan.
Staff Sgt. Scott Lambie, provincial co-ordinator for the RCMP's Internet child exploitation unit, said the investigation started in November 2015 when a local detachment received a complaint about a southern Saskatchewan girl being exploited through a popular social media app.
RCMP say the accused used an app on his cellphone to coerce young girls to send him naked images of themselves. He threatened to post the images all over the Internet unless more were sent.
Investigators in the province examined the Saskatchewan victim's electronic devices and were able to identify where the suspect was communicating from and under what usernames, Lambie said.
That's when investigators informed U.S. homeland security. U.S. authorities eventually arrested Robert Dion Ables, 40, of Hutchins, Texas, at his home in December.
He pleaded guilty in March to one count of receiving child pornography and two counts of producing child pornography.
Lambie called the 80-year sentence "tremendous," saying there's harsher sentencing south of the border for these types of crimes.
"The sentencing that we've seen in Canada does not come close to what this individual received in the U.S."
He said the lengthy prison term also reflects the nature of the extortion.
"He didn't have any remorse in what he was doing — he just kept going, wanting more and more images," said Lambie.
Lambie said sextortion cases are often the ones the ICE unit investigates involving teenagers, and this one follows a common trajectory.
"The victim sends a single image to begin with and it just expands from there," he said.
"You never really know who the person is on the other end of a cellphone or a computer unless you're talking to them face-to-face. People use the anonymity of the Internet to commit these crimes."
Around 60 per cent of perpetrators investigated by the ICE unit are found to be living outside of Saskatchewan's borders.