Two men face a combined 56 charges following an investigation by Toronto’s Police Service Human Trafficking Enforcement Team.
Police say the men forced a woman, 19, to be a sex worker between Jan. 8 and Feb. 10.
It is believed the men took her to Airbnb rentals in Toronto, Peel, Durham and York regions during this time where they forced her to perform sexual acts to customers after advertising her services on backpages.com.
Police allege the men forced her to relinquish any money she made to the men.
On Feb. 5, police say the human trafficking suspects and woman had an altercation at the Idlewood Inn on Kingston Road, after she refused to continue escorting.
Police say one of the men reacted, pointing a .45 calibre semi-automatic handgun at her face.
She allegedly tried to push the gun away and moments later, one of the suspects, enraged, shot her, striking her in the buttocks.
Police believe the men then allegedly took her to various locations in the GTA with untreated wounds.
She eventually escaped and sought medical attention.
“I don’t want to get into how she escaped, but she had the courage and fortitude to get away from her captors,” Det. Sgt. Nunzio Tramontozzi said during a news conference on Feb. 22.
Police locate men involved in human trafficking investigation
Police arrested the men in Hamilton and Brampton on Feb. 20 and Feb. 22.
They found a loaded .45 calibre semi-automatic handgun on one man and a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in a vehicle linked to the other man, police said.
Police also seized an abundance of money and ammunition.
“We believe there are other potential victims out there,” Nunzio said.
Police are working with Airbnb after noticing a frightening pattern.
“Within the last couple years … we’re seeing an emerging trend with human traffickers using more Airbnbs in the city of Toronto and the GTA,” he said. “They’re a lot more anonymous.”
Tyrel McLean, 18, of Hamilton and Dante Thaxter, 18, of Peel Region are facing 21 charges each including forcible confinement and aggravated assault.
Both men appeared in court on Feb. 21.