Provincial police say they dismantled a sex trafficking ring earlier this week, resulting in dozens of charges being laid.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the sex trafficking organization rotated victims through apartments in nine different cities, including Kingston and Belleville.
The investigation also extended across the province into Ottawa, Kitchener, London, Peterborough, Oshawa, Sudbury and Sarnia.
During a search warrant in the Kingston region, Kingston police say they found a female victim in the Queen Mary Road area.
Authorities say victims were forced to provide sexual services to clients who responded to online advertisements.
According to Ontario’s anti-human trafficking strategy website, human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide.
“It’s actually very common that girls from our very own backyard, from our own city, are being trafficked within our city and elsewhere,” says Lana Saunders, an anti-human trafficking crisis worker with victim services in Kingston Frontenac.
“Quite often, when someone is groomed into the sex-trafficking industry, they don’t see themselves as a victim.”
This why Saunders says some victims of sex trafficking may choose to not seek help.
Though she believes it’s important for victims to seek support, she says she would never push someone to do so.
“Sometimes these girls are taken out of the situation with only the clothes on their back, so we want to meet those needs initially but we also want to provide services that continue down the road, such as addiction and mental health treatment and counselling for the trauma they endured.”
The OPP say the victims in this investigation are being now provided support through different victim services agencies.
The investigation has resulted in a total of 32 charges being laid against seven people from across Ontario.
If you have information related to the investigation, contact your local police, the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or access their website at p3tips.com.