North Bay police joined 45 other police services across Ontario to crack a huge case of human trafficking, say the OPP in a news release today. The Greater Sudbury Police Service was also involved.
The effort saved seven people who were in exploitative situations, including two under the age of 18. The investigation was named "Operation Northern Spotlight."
Over a seven-day period, police across Ontario participated in the operation which resulted in 45 charges against 15 people.
"A total of 317 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals engaged with 218 potential victims, as part of a joint effort coordinated by the OPP. This was part of a national operation in partnership with the RCMP. Collaboration among police services is extremely important due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of human trafficking.
Of the seven victims identified:
- Two were recovered by Peel Regional Police Service
- One was recovered by Waterloo Regional Police Service
- Three were recovered by Ottawa Police Service
- One was recovered by Niagara Regional Police Service
During Operation Northern Spotlight, police met with people suspected of being in exploitative situations. They are provided contacts and information for community-based support agencies and are offered both immediate and future police assistance to leave the exploitation. The program is not intended to engage those who are not being exploited.
- Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration,
- Failure to Comply with Condition of Undertaking or Recognizance,
- Forcible Confinement,
- Trafficking in Persons,
- Material Benefit - Trafficking, Material Benefit from Sexual Services,
- Assault with a Weapon,
- Aggravated Assault,
- Assault Causing Bodily Harm,
- Pointing a Firearm,
- Possession of a Weapon for Dangerous Purpose,
- Criminal Harassment,
- Uttering Threats,
- Failing to report contrary to Christopher's Law (Sex offender Registry),
- Fail to Comply with SOIRA Order, Identity Fraud, Obstruct a Public Officer or Peace Officer,
- Possession of Property Obtained by Crime,
- Youth Criminal Justice Act: 137 - Fail to Comply with Sentence or Disposition.
"Human trafficking is a deplorable crime that threatens the safety, livelihood, and dignity of those who are being exploited and abused," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum. "This is a complex issue that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society and does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. It is our duty to recognize and protect these people from exploitation and it is imperative that we have a concentrated effort among all our partners to be effective."
More than 300 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals participated in Operation Northern Spotlight across Ontario.