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Thursday, October 22, 2015
News Release - Winnipeg Police Service
Thursday, October 22, 2015
OPERATION NORTHERN SPOTLIGHT PHASE 4
Coordinated Nationwide Human Trafficking Investigation
Police agencies from across Canada and the United States have come together in an extensive human trafficking investigation that has resulted in numerous charges and rescues of victims.
The Winnipeg Police along with 39 other police services in Canada, and including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States. (26 police agencies are from Ontario; 14 from outside of Ontario, including the RCMP) participated in another Operation Northern Spotlight investigation into human trafficking investigations involving mainly young women who are participating in the sex trade against their will.
Operation Northern Spotlightwas conducted over a one week period in early October 2015 in various municipalities and jurisdictions across the country.
During the coordinated investigations, 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, including 14, 15, and 16-year-olds. 348 officers and support staff combined to interview 326 people who were mainly women and included one male and two transgendered persons. Information and contacts with community-based support agencies where made available to all who were contacted during this investigation.
A vast range of charges were laid and include such charges as Trafficking in Persons, Forcible Confinement, Child Pornography, and Sexual Assault with a Weapon.
In Winnipeg, investigators with the Counter Exploitation Unit (CEU) were assisted by officers of the Counter Exploitation Team (CET), Missing Persons Unit (MPU) and RCMP Exploited Persons Pro-active Strategy (EPPS). A total of 34 women, aged between 19yrs to 51yrs, were interviewed in massage parlours and hotels located throughout the City of Winnipeg. Investigators believed that some of these women were under some level of control. They were offered appropriate community-based resources, where available, for assistance.
The Winnipeg Police Service Counter Exploitation Unit is committed to fighting human trafficking through intelligence gathering, working cooperatively with our law enforcement and community partners to support victims and ongoing enforcement efforts. Human trafficking investigations are complex and labour-intensive and we must continue to fight for the rights of those victims who are often from vulnerable sectors of our population in Winnipeg. Police will continue to investigate and hold those responsible for these crimes accountable.
In Winnipeg, anyone with new information that might assist investigators is asked to contact the Counter Exploitation Unit (CEU) at 1-204-986-3464.
Contact: WPS Public Information Office 204-986-3061
For further information contact either: Constable Jason Michalyshen, Public Information Officer Constable Eric Hofley, Public Information Officer Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs