Police officers in Nova Scotia along with the OPP and 52 other police services in Canada, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, participated in Operation Northern Spotlight last week.
Operation Northern Spotlight is an ongoing initiative to identify victims of human trafficking. This year’s project was conducted over a six-day period last week in various municipalities and jurisdictions across the country. Forty police agencies from Ontario; 15 additional police services and several RCMP municipal detachments across Canada participated in this phase of Operation Northern Spotlight.
During the coordinated investigations, police charged 32 people with 78 offences. Police were also able to ensure the safety of 16 people who had been working in the sex trade as minors or against their will, including 14, 15, and 16-year-olds. 391 officers and support staff combined to interview 379 people – who were mainly women but included one male and two transgender persons.
Charges include Exercise Control, Make Child Pornography, Distribute Child Pornography, Forcible Confinement, Trafficking in Persons, Material Benefit Resulting from Trafficking in Persons, Withhold or Destroy Documents, Living off the Avails, Assault, Utter Threats, Obstruct Police, and Failure to Comply with Court Orders and Conditions including Breaches of Recognizance and Probation.
Nova Scotia police agencies who participated included Halifax District RCMP, Halifax Regional Police, Cape Breton Regional Police and Eskasoni RCMP.
In the Halifax region, a total of 17 women, ranging in age from 17-36 were interviewed by the Vice Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division.
In Cape Breton, investigators with Cape Breton Regional Police and Eskasoni RCMP interviewed a total of 12 women ranging in age from 16 to 46.
In both areas, the women were offered a variety of support services including referrals to counselling, sexual and mental health, legal/court support, as well as referrals to education and employment.
Police officers in Nova Scotia recognize that not all sex workers are victims of human trafficking. We remain committed to helping those who have been exploited and trafficked by connecting them with community resources and support services. Investigators appeal to anyone who has information regarding someone being sexually exploited or trafficked and we encourage them to “Say Something if you See Something” and contact the police. We take these cases seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation, as well as protect the victims of these crimes.
Note to media: Staff Sergeant Darrell Gaudet, officer-in-charge of the Special Enforcement Section of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, is available for media interviews on Operation Spotlight. Please contact the undersigned to arrange an interview.
For more information, see http://halifax.ca/police/saysomethingifyouseesomething.php.
Source: Media Release