Operation Northern Spotlight nabs 15 in Human Trafficking ring.

Ngookimisnaanuk Grandmothers Council members Alison Recollet (L) and Marly Day-Bateman lead peaceful march along Hwy 17B - Garden River Ontario - Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Feb. 22nd, 2018. photo by Lynne Brown/Superior Media

(ORILLIA, ON) – Members of police services throughout Ontario were able to ensure the safety of seven people who were in exploitative situations, including two under the age of 18 as a result of Operation Northern Spotlight, a coordinated, national effort to end human trafficking.

Over a seven-day period, 45 police services across Ontario participated in the operation. Forty-five charges were laid against 15 people. A total of 317 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals engaged with 218 potential victims, as part of a joint effort coordinated by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). This was part of a national operation in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Collaboration among police services is extremely important due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of human trafficking.

Of the seven victims identified:

Two were recovered by Peel Regional Police Service
One was recovered by Waterloo Regional Police Service
Three were recovered by Ottawa Police Service
One was recovered by Niagara Regional Police Service

During Operation Northern Spotlight, police meet with individuals suspected of being in exploitative situations. They are provided contacts and information for community-based support agencies and are offered both immediate and future police assistance to leave the exploitation. The program is not intended to engage those who are not being exploited.

Charges include: Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration, Failure to Comply with Condition of Undertaking or Recognizance, Forcible Confinement, Trafficking in Persons, Material Benefit – Trafficking, Material Benefit from Sexual Services, Procuring, Assault with a Weapon, Aggravated Assault, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, Assault, Pointing a Firearm, Possession of a Weapon for Dangerous Purpose, Criminal Harassment, Uttering Threats, Failing to report contrary to Christopher’s Law (Sex offender Registry), Fail to Comply with SOIRA Order, Identity Fraud, Obstruct a Public Officer or Peace Officer, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, Youth Criminal Justice Act: 137 – Fail to Comply with Sentence or Disposition.

“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime that threatens the safety, livelihood and dignity of those who are being exploited and abused. This is a complex issue that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society and does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. It is our duty to recognize and protect these people from exploitation and it is imperative that we have a concentrated effort among all our partners to be effective.” said Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

The following Ontario police services participated in this year’s Operation Northern Spotlight:

Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service
Barrie Police Service
Belleville Police Service
Brantford Police Service
Brockville Police Service
Chatham-Kent Police Service
Cobourg Police Service
Cornwall Community Police Service
Dryden Police Service
Durham Regional Police Service
Greater Sudbury Police Service
Guelph Police Service
Halton Regional Police Service
Hamilton Police Service
City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service
Kingston Police
Lac Seul Police Service
LaSalle Police Service
London Police Service
Niagara Regional Police Service
North Bay Police Service
Ontario Provincial Police
Orangeville Police Service
Ottawa Police Service
Owen Sound Police Service
Peel Regional Police
Peterborough Police Service
Port Hope Police Service
Rama Police Service
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Sarnia Police Service
Saugeen Shores Police Service
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service
Smiths Falls Police Service
South Simcoe Police Service
Stratford Police Service
Thunder Bay Police Service
Timmins Police Service
Toronto Police Service
United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising Anishaabe Police Service
Waterloo Regional Police Service
West Grey Police Service
Windsor Police Service
Woodstock Police Service
York Regional Police

“Victims of exploitation and human trafficking continue to include our neighbours, our friends and our children. The goal of Operation Northern Spotlight is to assist those who are exploited. Human trafficking is real in Ontario.” shared Inspector Tina CHALK, Counter Exploitation and Missing Persons Section, Ontario Provincial Police

“More than 300 police officers, support staff and victim services professionals participated in Operation Northern Spotlight across Ontario. These operations provided outreach to many people, and resulted in the identification of seven victims. As part of Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking, we will continue to investigate this serious crime to help free victims from a cycle of violence and abuse.” said Detective Staff Sergeant Coyer YATEMAN, Anti-Human Trafficking Investigations Coordination Team, Ontario Provincial Police