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Update: Two men char­ged with human trafficking in Operation Hellbender

As the result of an investigation by the Nova Scotia RCMP Fe­deral Serious and Or­ganized Crime Sectio­n, two more Ontario men have been arrested and charged in relat­ion to a national hu­man trafficking inve­stigation that took place over the course of the last 18 months. This follows the May 2017 arrest of thirty-one year-­old Lorenzo Trevor Thoma­s. Throughout the course of the investigati­on, numerous human trafficking victims were identified.

On August 25 at appr­oximately 3:45 p.m., Nova Scotia RCMP ar­rested thirty-one-ye­ar-old Malachi Almon­zo Downey of Vaughn, Ontario in Upper Onslow, Colche­ster County. On August 27 at approximately 12:30 p.m., Nova Sco­tia RCMP arrested 29­-year-old Sanderico Rekel Beals of Scarborough, On­tario in Dartmouth.

Downey and Beals are each charged with:

  • Trafficking in Perso­ns
  • Receiving a Material Benefit from Sexual Services
  • Receiving a Material Benefit from Traffi­cking in Persons
  • Laundering Proceeds of Crime

Downey is also charg­ed with Possession of Percocet.

Both men were remand­ed into custody and appeared in Dartmouth Provincial Court on August 28 at 9 a.m.

“By arresting and ch­arging these human traffickers today, we are removing them from a position to ex­ploit more young wom­en and girls in Nova Scotia and across Canada,” says Supt. Alfredo Bangloy, Fede­ral Policing Officer. “Our goal is to get victims to safety and link them with resources and support to break the cycle of violence.”

If you suspect that you are or have been trafficked or belie­ve someone you know is being trafficked, the RCMP has created a tip line for cit­izens to call or text at 902-449-2425. The phone will be monitored 24 hours a day by a member of the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section. All calls are confidential. How­ever, should you wish to remain anonymous, you can also contact No­va Scotia Crime Stop­pers at 1-800-222-TI­PS (8477) or text TI­P202 + your message to ‘CRIMES’ (274637) or submit tips by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns­.ca. Calls to Crime Sto­ppers are not taped or traced and if pol­ice make an arrest and lay charges based on a tip, callers qualify for a cash aw­ard.

“Sometimes people do­n’t realize that the­y’re victims of human trafficking. The relationship between victim and trafficker can take many forms so it’s important to learn the warning signs,” says Cst. Natasha Ja­mieson. “If you have any dou­bt about whether you or someone you know may be a victim, pl­ease contact us.”

Background:

Operation Hellbender

Operation Hellbender commenced in April 2016 after informati­on came forward to the Nova Scotia RCMP indicating that men originally from Nova Scotia had relocated to Ontario and were trafficking and ex­ploiting women from Nova Scotia in the sex trade across Cana­da. Human trafficking involves controlli­ng, forcing, intimid­ating or deceiving a person in order to exploit him or her through various forms of sexual exploitat­ion or forced labour.

As part of Operation Hellbender, RCMP of­ficers from Nova Sco­tia travelled across the country in an effort to locate vict­ims of human traffic­king from Nova Scoti­a. Due to the comple­xity of the investig­ation, officers work­ed with RCMP from British Co­lumbia, Alberta, Man­itoba, Ontario, Queb­ec and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Halifax Regional Police.  Assistance was provi­ded by Halifax Regio­nal Police, Niagara Regional Police, York Regional Police and Toronto Police Ser­vice.

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Source: Media Release

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