Police have made three arrests in connection with a series of violent robberies of sex trade workers in the GTA.
The robberies started on Oct. 25 and have happened mostly in West-end Toronto, with one occurring in Mississauga and another happening in Scarborough, police said in a press conference.
The suspects, who have been dubbed the “escort bandits,” would contact sex-trade workers and arrange a date to meet the escort at her hotel room, Staff Inspector Mike Earl said.
They would knock on the escort’s door pretending to be the client and three or four people would push their way into the room, assault and rob the victim.
The latest robbery happened in the early morning of Dec. 9 at around 5 a.m. at the Quality Suites hotel on Carlingview Drive. A 22 year-old escort was in one of the rooms at the hotel expecting a client.
When there was a knock at the door, she opened it and three men “pushed their way into the room,” Earl said. They hit the woman on the head.
The men took her phone, clothing, belongings, and forced her to undress. She was then sexually assaulted by two of the men.
Just hours before, at around 1 a.m., another violent robbery happened at a hotel on Estate Drive in Scarborough.
During the Scarborough robbery, a 29 year-old sex-trade worker had her hotel trashed, had her belongings stolen and was assaulted.
When the robbers found that the victim didn’t have what they said was sufficient “property,” they reportedly confined her and forced her to come with them.
She was then forced to call her boyfriend and arrange for him to meet her and the robbers on the street in order for him to give the robbers money.
However, the robbers assaulted the victim’s boyfriend, robbed him and didn’t release the victim.
At 3 p.m., police found the victim in the back seat of a car on Steeles Avenue with one of the suspects. The suspect was arrested at the scene.
Two males and a female are now in custody.
Lenford Richards, 20, has been charged with six counts of robbery, six counts of forcible confinement, six counts of failing to comply with probation, weapons dangerous and gang sexual assault.
“Richards was involved in each and every robbery,” Earl said. A black suspect was also involved in every robbery. Earl said they were responsible in planning and orchestrating the robberies.
Kevin Baigorria, 22, is facing four counts of robbery, four counts of forcible confinement and weapons dangerous.
A 17 year-old girl is facing four counts of robbery and four counts of forcible confinement.
The police are looking for two men. One is black and 19-25 years old. Another is white and also 19-25 years old. The two men were also involved in the robbery Quality Suites robbery and assault.
Police are also looking for a girl who is black and is 19-25 years old.
Police are reaching out to people working in the sex trade, Earl said.
“There very well could be victims out there that are afraid to come forward or are reluctant to come forward,” Earl said. “This is an appeal to them to come forward also.”