Three Lethbridge men are among 18 people from across the province charged with child pornography related offences.

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation unit laid a total of 65 charges between May 20th and June 23rd.

Locally, 18 year old Bryan Hernandez and 25 year old Yonatan Castro Linares have each been charged with accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography while 26 year old Brandon Eguizabal is charged with accessing and possessing child porn.

ICE received 243 reported instances of online child exploitation in Alberta in March, far exceeding the unit’s two-year average of 110.

Police believe the rise is likely in part related to digital dependency during COVID-19 isolation measures.

ALERT CEO Superintendent Dwayne Lakusta says “ICE is working incredibly hard to put predators behind bars but we need parents to do their part and be vigilant of their kids’ online activities.”

ICE is an integrated team that includes members of Calgary Police, Edmonton Police, Lethbridge Police, Medicine Hat Police, and RCMP.