32 arrested, 16 saved in human trafficking crackdown

Two Toronto victims found in cross-Canada police operation

Thirty-two people have been charged and 16 victims have been saved in a cross-country effort to crack down on human trafficking.

Fifty-three police forces and nearly 400 officers across Canada worked in co-ordination to carry out Operation Northern Spotlight on Oct. 18.

Of the 32 that were charged, 25 were arrested in Ontario.

The accused are facing 78 counts including trafficking of a minor, procuring sexual services of minors, and producing and distributing child pornography.

Police were also able to secure the safe release of 16 victims who had been involved in the sex trade, either forcibly or as a minor. Investigators say many were under the age of 16.

Two victims in Toronto, aged 17 and 18, were among those released, police say. The two were allegedly forced to perform sex acts in a motel in Scarborough after two men took their money and threatened them.

“Canada’s police leaders remain committed to fighting human trafficking through intelligence-gathering, working with our law enforcement and community partners to support victims, and continuing our enforcement efforts,” said Rick Barnum, deputy commissioner for the Ontario Provincial Police.