Woman accused of human trafficking appears in Saskatoon court

WATCH ABOVE: A 23-year-old woman is facing three counts of human trafficking in Saskatoon.

A 23-year-old woman accused of charges related to human trafficking appeared in Saskatoon provincial court on Friday.

Dilshad Ali Zada was arrested on Wednesday night following an investigation launched in March by the Saskatoon police vice unit. She has a Saskatoon residence, but has “very strong ties” to Quebec, according to Saskatoon police Staff Sgt. Grant Obst.

READ MORE: Woman with ties to Quebec facing human trafficking charges in Saskatoon

Zada has a bail hearing scheduled for Monday.

She faces three human trafficking charges, alleging she exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of three women.

According to a Saskatoon police new release, the purpose of the exploitation was sexual and occurred between various cities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Zada’s 10 charges also include uttering threats and theft over $5,000.

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Court documents state the offences occurred between Nov. 1, 2018, and March 15, 2019. The victims are said to be an 18-year-old woman from Moose Jaw and two 20-year-old women from Quebec.

Police said the victims were recruited in numerous ways, including personal introductions and through social media. Zada is accused of stealing money and personal belongings to maintain control over the women.

READ MORE: Hotline for victims of human trafficking goes live in Canada in 200 languages

Stolen items listed in court documents include identification documents and a dog.

There could be more victims, but Obst said in general, human trafficking victims are intimidated, threatened and isolated.

“And they’re embarrassed, so to get them to talk to police and to cooperate with the investigation is a major challenge,” Obst said.

While Saskatoon police are familiar with the sex trade, the force is less experienced with the dynamics of control, marketing and movement of people.

“Our exposure to that’s limited,” Obst said.

READ MORE: 2 sisters offer free rides in Regina’s North Central to fight human trafficking

Having victims move from one place to another can make it difficult for police to gain ground in an investigation, according to NASHI president Savelia Curniski.

NASHI, a volunteer-run charity in Saskatoon, raises awareness around human trafficking.

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Curniski said the perpetrators of human trafficking aren’t only men. Women can often be the first point of contact with victims and might portray themselves as mothering figures, Curniski said.

“Sometimes at the initial stage, women are involved because there is a trust issue,” Curniski said.

Anyone with information, including potential victims, should contact Saskatoon police at 306-975-8300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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