Operation Northern Spotlight - Phase 4

Oct 22, 2015

Coordinated Nationwide Human Trafficking Investigation

ORILLIA, ON, Oct. 22, 2015 /CNW/ - Police agencies from across Canada and the United States have come together in an extensive human trafficking investigation that has resulted in numerous charges and rescues of victims.

As part of Operation Northern Spotlight, police officers from 40 police agencies mobilized together by pre-arranging to meet with people suspected of partaking in the sex trade, potentially against their will, at locations across the country. During a coordinated enforcement crackdown in early October, police in Canada charged 47 people with 135 offences. Police were also able to ensure the safety of 20 people who have been working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will.  Most of those rescued were under the age of 19; some were as young as 14. During the same period, law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), conducted similar operations aimed at combatting human trafficking. That initiative, dubbed Operation Cross Country IX, resulted in the recovery of numerous children and the arrest of several suspects.

A vast range of charges were laid, including Trafficking in Persons, Forcible Confinement, Child Pornography, and Sexual Assault with a Weapon. 

"The OPP is committed to fighting human trafficking through intelligence gathering, working cooperatively with our law enforcement and community partners to support victims and ongoing enforcement efforts.  Human trafficking investigations are complex and labour-intensive and we must continue to fight for the rights of those victims who are often from vulnerable sectors of our population in Ontario." -- OPP Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, Provincial Commander of Investigations and Organized Crime

"We extend our sincere thanks to the OPP for heading up this phase of Operation Northern Spotlight. The RCMP is pleased to stand side-by-side with fellow policing agencies in this Operation. It is this type of coordinated approach that can best address this problem. The RCMP looks forward to our continued participation in Operation Northern Spotlight and to raising awareness about human trafficking and its devastating effects." -- Chief Superintendent Warren Coons, Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

"Human trafficking is a threat which targets the vulnerable around the world. And one of the most vulnerable -- our children. Our partnerships enabled the FBI and Canadian law enforcement agencies to share best practices and intelligence. As a result of this collaboration and sharing, both U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies rescued children and arrested those involved in the trafficking of children."Joseph S. Campbell, Assistant Director, FBI Criminal Investigation Division

To read more about the FBI's Operation Cross Country IX, please visit www.fbi.gov .

Police services participating in Operation Northern Spotlight:

Ontario: Amherstburg Police Service, Barrie Police Service, Belleville Police, Brantford Police Service, Cornwall Community Police Service, Durham Regional Police, Greater Sudbury Police, Guelph Police Service, Halton Regional Police, Hamilton Police Service, Kingston Police Service, Lasalle Police, London Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Orangeville Police, Ottawa Police, Peel Regional Police Service, Peterborough Police Service, Rama First Nation Police, Stratford Police Service, Strathroy-Caradoc Police, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Windsor Police Service, Woodstock Police Service, York Regional Police Service.

Non-Ontario: Calgary Police Service, Cape Breton Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Ville de Gatineau Quebec, Halifax Regional Police, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, Saskatoon Police Service, Saint John Police Service, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Ville du Québec, Winnipeg Police, Sûreté du Québec, and the RCMP.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was also involved in this Project.

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information: Sgt. Peter Leon, OPP Media Relations Coordinator, Phone: (705) 826-0416