Police Agencies Tackle Human Trafficking UPDATED

(WINDSOR, ON) – Numerous charges have been laid by police following the fifth installment of a coordinated, national investigation to suppress human trafficking. As part of Operation Northern Spotlight, members of 36 police services from across Ontario directly engaged with people suspected of partaking in the sex trade, potentially against their will.

“Canada’s police leaders remain committed to fighting human trafficking through intelligence-gathering, working with our law enforcement and community partners to support victims, and continuing our enforcement efforts,” said Deputy OPP Commissioner Rick Barnum. “Operation Northern Spotlight models the successes that all police services can achieve when we work together and coordinate our limited resources.”

In this area, Amherstburg Police Service, Chatham-Kent Police Service, LaSalle Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, Sarnia Police Service, and Windsor Police Service were all involved in this phase of Operation Northern Spotlight.

During coordinated investigations over a six-day period, police charged 25 people with 67 offences. Police were also able to ensure the safety of 16 people who had been working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will.

A total of 207 police officers and support staff engaged with 199 people and offered them information and contacts with community-based support agencies.

“Human trafficking victims often represent extremely vulnerable populations. These victims rarely identify themselves to authorities,” said OPP Detective Superintendent Dave Truax. “Therefore, sharing information about and maintaining relationships with community agencies are critical to effectively respond to the crime and to refer victims to appropriate community-based resources, where available, for assistance.”

Charges include trafficking in persons under 18, trafficking in persons, procure sexual services under 18, material benefit under 18, communicate for the purpose of obtaining for consideration the sexual services of a person, exercise control, make child pornography, distribute child pornography, possess child pornography, child luring, obstruct police, resist arrest, weapons dangerous, and various Controlled Drug and Substances Act offences.

In Windsor, over a 5 day period in early October WPS spoke to 18 women, ranging in age from 20 to 40,  believed to be involved in the sex trade industry. The women originated from cities across Ontario and the United States.

All were provided safety plans and resources to exit the sex trade.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.