Numerous charges have been laid by police following the fourth installment of a coordinated, national investigation to suppress human trafficking.
Earlier this month as part of Operation Northern Spotlight, members of 40 police services pre-arranged to meet with people suspected of partaking in the sex trade, potentially against their will, at urban locations across Canada.
During the coordinated investigations over a seven-day period in early October, police charged 47 people with 135 offences. Police were also able to ensure the safety of 20 people who had been working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will. Most of those rescued were under the age of 19.
Close to 350 police officers and support staff were involved in Operation Northern Spotlight, interviewing 326 people who were offered information and community-based support agencies.
Charges include Trafficking in Persons, Receiving Financial/Material Benefit, Exercise Control, Living on the Avails, Extortion, Knowingly Advertise or Offer to Provide a Sexual Service, Utter Threats, Forcible Confinement, Assault, Breach, Obstruct, Assault with a Weapon, Sexual Assault with a Weapon, Recruit Person Under 18 Years Old to Provide Sexual Service, Procure Person Under 18 Years Old to Provide Sexual Service, Withhold/Destroy Travel or Identify Document, Possess Child Pornography, Make Child Pornography, Import/Sell/Distribute Child Pornography.
The following Ontario police services participated in this phase of Operation Northern Spotlight: Barrie Police Service, Belleville Police, Brantford Police Service, Cornwall Community Police Service, Durham Regional Police, Greater Sudbury Police, Guelph Police Service, Halton Regional Police, Hamilton Police Service, Kingston Police Service, Lasalle Police, London Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Orangeville Police, Ottawa Police, Peel Regional Police Service, Peterborough Police Service, Rama First Nation Police, Stratford Police Service, Strathroy-Caradoc Police, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Windsor Police Service, Woodstock Police Service, York Regional Police Service. In some Ontario municipal police jurisdictions, operations were supported by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Other agencies from across Canada who participated in this extensive investigation include: Calgary Police Service, Cape Breton Regional Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Ville de Gatineau Quebec, Halifax Regional Police, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, Saskatoon Police Service, Saint John Police Service, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Ville du Quebec, Winnipeg Police, Surete du Quebec, and the RCMP. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was also involved in this Project.
In Halifax region, a total of six individuals, 5 females and one male who ranged in age from 15 to 22, were interviewed by the Vice Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division in local hotels. The minor was returned to the custody of their parents.
In Cape Breton, investigators with Cape Breton Regional Police and Eskasoni RCMP interviewed a total of six females ranging in age from 20 to 40.
In both areas, the individuals were offered support services, including health care, outreach programs and mental health support.
The Nova Scotia RCMP, Halifax Regional Police and Cape Breton Regional Police remain committed to helping all victims and connecting them with community resources and support services. Investigators appeal to anyone who may be involved in a similar situation or may know someone involved to come forward to police. We take these cases seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation, as well as protect the victims of these crimes.