June 9, 2017 8:52 pm

14 arrested in connection with sexual solicitation of minors

Montreal police are in the midst of a two-week operation that aims to protect girls against exploitation.

BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images
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Montreal police have made 14 arrests in connection with the sexual solicitation of minors leading up to the Grand Prix weekend.

According to a report by police released Friday, 334 people have been suspected of trying to obtain sexual favours from those under the age of 18 last week.

Police are in the midst of a two-week operation that aims to protect girls against exploitation.

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For the first time, the police are reaching out to the city hotels and their employees as a prevention tactic. The partnership is meant to help police by reporting suspicious situations of exploitation and sex work.

” We went to see the hotels to talk and let them know if they see something, they can call us because they might see minors going in and out of the same room,” said Insp. Michel Leduc, head of the Major Crimes Unit.

Grand Prix weekend has been known to have a spike in sexual offences in Montreal, and Leduc says that there might be an increase in demand during the Grand Prix but he says there is a demand all-year long.

Leduc says the police monitor the situation with multiple operations throughout the year.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has mandated a three-year study to help draw a clearer picture of what is actually going on during events such as the Formula One.

“It’s not just the Formula One, it’s all events, we need to make sure, from a law point-of-view and from a perspective of protection and safety,” Coderre said.

Advocate groups for sex workers say that police operations such as the one in place make things difficult for women in the sex trade, because sex workers become cautious of going to police.

“Every year, there is more money and more resources to go and harass sex workers in their work places. Last year, they say they met with 100 clients — 350 sex workers, no underage girls … no exploitation,” said Sandra Wesley, director of Chez Stella.

READ MORE: The reality of sex workers inCanada: Vulnerable, unprotected and misunderstood

Police will have a full report after this week. The Grand Prix race will run through the weekend with the race and festivities ending Sunday afternoon.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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