Ottawa police arrest four in connection with human trafficking investigation

Ottawa police say they have made four arrests stemming from a human trafficking investigation which began in February. Beatrice Britneff / Global News File

Ottawa police announced on Tuesday that they have made four arrests, one adult male and three female minors, in connection with a human trafficking investigation that began earlier this year.

The arrests were made last Friday, March 29, and the investigation began in February.

According to Ottawa police, investigators from the human trafficking unit spoke to an underage female victim and learned that there were many other victims. The man allegedly committing the trafficking, they also discovered, was known as “MacMac.”

READ MORE: Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Ottawa police look to prevent human trafficking among most vulnerable

Investigators also found that the same male suspect was wanted for alleged robberies in the 1-100 block of Rideau Street earlier in the year.

Police made the arrests without incident after several days of surveillance carried out by the robbery and human trafficking units.

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John Makenson Bastien (“MacMac”), 27, of Ottawa, and the three minors face a litany of charges, including sexual assault, extortion, assault and robbery.

WATCH: (March 11) Seattle police bust massive human trafficking ring

Click to play video: 'Seattle police bust massive human trafficking ring' Seattle police bust massive human trafficking ring
Seattle police bust massive human trafficking ring – Mar 11, 2019

Ottawa police are concerned that there are other victims and are urging anyone with information to call the Ottawa Police Human Trafficking Unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5005 or 1-800-292-1168.

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or by downloading the Ottawa Police app.

According to police, one of the hardest parts of investigating human trafficking is the unwillingness of victims to come forward.

READ MORE: United Conservative Party unveils plan to fight human trafficking in Alberta

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“The human trafficking unit is hopeful that as a result of these arrests, more human trafficking victims will come forward and speak to police,” said Sgt. Damien Laflamme.

“We understand the reluctance of survivors in coming forward with information. The Ottawa police will continue to put survivors and their needs first and foremost.”

Police also ask anyone looking for more information on how to protect children from child sexual abuse and exploitation to visit the Canadian Centre for Child Protection website or their tip line.

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