32 people charged with 78 offences in Canada-wide human trafficking investigation

The RCMP, FBI and 52 Canadian police services participating in Operation Northern Spotlight. File / Global News

TORONTO – Police say 32 people have been charged with 78 offences in a six-day co-ordinated investigation into human trafficking across Canada.

More than 390 officers from 53 Canadian police services, plus the FBI in the United States, directly engaged with people suspected of working in the sex trade, potentially against their will.

Most of the arrests in Operation Northern Spotlight occurred in Ontario where 25 people were charged with 67 offences.

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Outside of Ontario, 17 police services and several RCMP municipal detachments across Canada participated in the investigation.

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Charges laid during the investigation include trafficking in persons under 18, procure sexual services under 18, exercising control, making child pornography, and distributing child pornography.

Investigators say they were also able to ensure the safety of 16 people who had been working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will, including numerous people 16 and under.

They are encouraging anyone who believes they are a victim of human trafficking to come forward and report any occurrences to police.

“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 of the Ontario Provincial Police.

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Toronto police called human trafficking “a local, provincial and national problem that affects the most vulnerable in society.”

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