Nearly 400 children have been rescued and hundreds of people arrested worldwide after a sex abuse investigation in Canada.

Police said they launched the investigation in November 2010 after finding some 200,000 explicit images of children at a house in Brantford, near Toronto.

They later discovered a website, allegedly run by a Toronto man, that allowed users to purchase pornographic videos of children.

The site, which allegedly offered digital downloads and a mail order service, is said to have made more than $4m (£2.5m).

Many of the 339 arrests made in dozens of countries around the world came after detectives trawled a database of alleged customers.

Sky’s US Correspondent Dominic Waghorn said: “What’s extraordinary is that this man’s alleged business appears to have been conducted out in the open.

“The website was described by people who saw it before it was shut down … as looking rather like Amazon.

“There was a legal page saying that everyone pictured in the images was of the appropriate legal age.

“The police in Canada will have to prove that, under Canadian law, these images were made not for artistic merit but for sexual gratification.

“However, they’ve said that some of the images they found among several terabytes of data were horrific and the worst they’d ever seen.”

The three-year investigation, known as Project Spade, involved people in more than 50 countries, including the United States, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, Spain and Mexico.

The results of the crackdown, which police said had seen 386 children rescued from child exploitation, were announced at a news conference.

A man arrested over the 2010 haul of pornographic photos, who was charged and released on bail at the time, was revisited by police when they received information about an alleged purchase of pornography.

He was subsequently charged with accessing and possessing indecent images of children and two counts of breaching bail conditions and was jailed last June.

Brantford Police Service did not release specific details of any of the other arrests.

source: skynews