Numerous charges have been laid by police following the fifth installment of a coordinated, national investigation to suppress human trafficking.
The Winnipeg Police along with 53 other police services in Canada, and including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States,(36 police agencies are from Ontario; 18 from outside of Ontario, including the RCMP) participated in this phase of Operation Northern Spotlight.
Operation Northern Spotlightis an ongoing investigation into human trafficking involving mainly young women who are participating in the sex trade against their will. This phase was conducted over a six-day period in October 2016 in various municipalities and jurisdictions across the country.
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 a minor or against their will, including numerous persons 16 years and under. 391 officers and support staff combined to interview 379 people. 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 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.
In Winnipeg, investigators with the Counter Exploitation Unit (CEU) were assisted by officers of the Counter Exploitation Team (CET) & Missing Persons Unit (MPU). Police charged 5 people for Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration. A total of 22 women, aged between 19yrs and 44yrs, were interviewed in areas known to be frequented by sex trade workers, 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 for assistance.
The Winnipeg Police Service takes the safety and security of all women seriously. Police will continue to investigate and hold those responsible for these crimes accountable. This important initiative is a cooperative effort that brings police services together and sends a strong message to the offenders involved in organized efforts to exploit vulnerable people across geographic boundaries.
In Winnipeg, anyone with new information that might assist investigators is asked to contact the Counter Exploitation Unit (CEU) at 1-204-986-3464 or Email: WPS-CEU@winnipeg.ca
Non-Ontario (19): Brandon Police Service, Calgary Police Service, Cape Breton Police Service, Charlottetown Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Service de Police de Ville de Gatineau, Service de Police de Repentigny, Service de Police de Lévis, Halifax Regional Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, Regina Police Service, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Saint John City Police Service, Saskatoon Police Service, Service de Police de Ville du Québec, Sûreté du Québec, Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP municipal detachments including Calgary Federal Policing South Intake Unit, Fort McMurray, Drayton Valley, K Division Serious Crime, Kare Unit, Carlyle, Codiac, H Division Integrated Halifax Vice, Charlottetown, IOCN, B Division, E Division Major Crime/Federal Serious & Organized Crime, C Division and Sarnia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was also involved in this Project.
For further information contact either: Constable Jason Michalyshen, Public Information Officer Constable Rob Carver, Public Information Officer Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs