A central Alberta man suspected of recruiting and exploiting multiple vulnerable women is facing seven charges related to sex trafficking and sexual assault, according to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
Christopher Becks, 37, is from Ponoka and was arrested after a search at an Ottewell home in Edmonton following a tip that someone was targeting women, many with no fixed address.
“It’s our understanding that this man was actively searching out women who were struggling with addiction,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Hayes with ALERT’s human trafficking section.
“He would lure these women to hotels by offering drugs, food and a place to stay, then exploit them and force them into the sex trade, even taking them to other areas of the province.”
ALERT first became aware of this individual in October and an arrest was made in December.
Information from one of the survivors triggered the investigation, Mike Tucker said.
“We’ve been able to work with one woman in this case who was able to be linked with resources to help her exit the situation and had the courage to come forward and provide information.
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“We know there’s a lot more women who’ve been victimized… we’re looking at as many as a dozen. And we really want to emphasize that we’re here to help and we want more information to help lay some more charges.
“We have safety network coordinators who are embedded within our team of investigators who are able to work with those survivors, help them exit the sex trade, provide resources, linking them with social support services,” Tucker explained.
“They made a disclosure to one of those people and we were able to conduct the investigation.”
Those with information about this investigation are asked to contact Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or submit anonymous tips through Crime Stoppers.
“There’s a community of these women that he targets, and these women may better recognize him by the name Bear,” Hayes said, adding Beck is known to drive a black Mustang car.
Becks is out on bail with conditions as he awaits his next court appearance on March 3. He faces the following charges:
- Trafficking a person
- Material benefit from trafficking a person
- Advertising sexual services
- Sexual assault
- Overcoming resistance to commission of offence
- Uttering threats
“Knowing that we’re dealing with people who are already vulnerable in society, we wanted to act quickly to prevent other victims,” Tucker said. “And you can appreciate not always the most comfortable or cooperative in working with police.
“We understand and recognize there are barriers to coming forward and working with police to provide information, but that’s why we have civilians embedded within who provide those social supports services to help people exit the sex industry and provide resources to help begin their healing process.”