NORTHERN SPOTLIGHT’ CHARGES 15 WITH HUMAN TRAFFICKING OFFENCES
OPP Coordinated Investigations in Ontario
(ORILLIA, ON) Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has supported and coordinated a seventh edition of Operation Northern Spotlightin Ontario, a proactive initiative to identify victims that are being exploited in the sex trade. The collaborative multi-jurisdictional initiative took place from October 15-21, 2018.
As part of Operation Northern Spotlight, members the OPP, RCMP and 43 other municipal and First Nations police services in Ontario engaged with people suspected of partaking in the sex trade, potentially against their will. During coordinated investigations over a six-day period, police charged 15 people with 45 offences. Police were also able to ensure the safety of 7people who had been working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will. A total of 317 police officers and support staff engaged with 218 people and offered them information and contacts with community-based support agencies.
During Operation Northern Spotlight, police meet with individuals suspected of being in exploitative situations. These individuals are provided community contacts and information for community-based support agencies for immediate or future use. This initiative is not intended to engage those who are not being exploited.
Charges laid in this year’s initiative include: 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, Procuring, Assault with a Weapon, Aggravated Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Assault, 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. 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 amongst all our partners to be effective.”
Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime
“Victims of exploitation and human trafficking continue to include our neighbors, our friends and our children. The goal of Operation Northern Spotlight is to assist those who are being exploited. Human trafficking is real in Ontario.”
Inspector Tina CHALK, Counter Exploitation and Missing Persons Section, Ontario Provincial Police
“More than 300 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals participated in Operation Northern Spotlight across Ontario. These operations provided outreach to many people, and resulted in the identification of seven victims. As part of Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking, we will continue to investigate this serious crime to help free victims from a cycle of violence and abuse.”
Detective Staff Sergeant Coyer YATEMAN, Anti-Human Trafficking Investigation Coordination Team, Ontario Provincial Police.
The Guelph Police Service has taken a more proactive active role in this year’s operation by dedicating a team of officers from different GPS work units, including Sexual Assault and Child Abuse and Neighborhood Services Patrol to team up with members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
Although no charges were laid in Guelph, police were able to speak with females that are involved in the sex trade and offer them numerous support and community resources.
The Guelph Police Service asks that if you or anyone you know is believed to be involved in the sex trade and needs assistance to please contact the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit.