Human Trafficking: Arrests Made in Vancouver Island

By Beth Bruno No comments

Four Vancouver Island Residents Arrested for Human Trafficking

Four Vancouver Island residents were arrested on human trafficking-related charges in Swift Current, Saskatchewan on Jan. 28 after an off-duty RCMP officer spotted three vehicles travelling in close proximity and speeding east on Highway 1 toward Swift Current. During the traffic stop, officers became suspicious when they discovered two young girls in the back seat with tinted windows and no identification.

Sexual Exploitation

Recruiters exploit people’s vulnerability to fill their financial needs. They use false pretenses to gain the trust of potential victims and promise a life of luxury, jobs, education, money for families or drugs, brand name clothing and even relationships. Victims of sex trafficking are often moved from hotel to hotel and isolated from family and friends or areas they are familiar with. They may also be forced to perform labour on rural properties with little contact with the outside world.

The Government of Canada is committed to improving awareness and prevention efforts. The National Action Plan includes developing a national diagnostic tool and training tools for front-line service providers to identify people at risk of human trafficking in Canada. This will allow us to better target prevention activities. We can all do our part by educating ourselves and challenging the myths that surround human trafficking. This is especially important for young people. If you are concerned about someone you know, report it to Crime Stoppers.

Trafficking in Persons

Using force or fraud, traffickers exploit vulnerable people for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labour and other purposes. This is the world’s second largest criminal industry and affects many of the most marginalized members of society. The crime degrades human dignity, corrupts global commerce and fosters inequality between women and men.

Victims of human trafficking often live in a state of fear and endure physical, emotional and psychological abuse. They may bond with their traffickers and feel reluctant to challenge or even attempt to leave. This is why they may be subject to escalating threatening behaviour or actual violence.

Canada is both a source and transit country for human trafficking. In the past decade, 531 human trafficking specific charges have been laid by RCMP. The vast majority of these cases (94%) involved domestic exploitation in some form. The remaining incidents (5.7%) involved commercial exploitation or recruitment for gangs. Most victims are women and girls under the age of 24.

Law Enforcement

Human trafficking is a crime that deprives people of their most basic rights. The most common victims are women and children, but men and youths can also fall victim to this heinous crime. This crime occurs around the world and is committed by individuals and organized criminal groups for profit and control.

Many victims are recruited in large urban centres, where the criminal networks that run trafficking rings operate. They are often lured to the city by false promises of work, housing and other benefits. These areas are known as trafficking corridors.

RCMP officers who recently arrested four Vancouver Island residents for trafficking in women and girls described how they messaged the girls online and pretended to be a man called John. This is called a Romeo approach, where the trafficker makes the girl feel special and loved, similar to a girlfriend. Then the trafficker introduces fear, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to control the victim.

Prevention

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a hidden crime, and it’s often underreported. Anyone can fall prey to traffickers, who are expert manipulators and predators. Some people are more vulnerable to traffickers than others because of personal, family and societal factors beyond their control.

The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments, the private sector, civil society, and international partners to address this issue. For example, the Government is supporting new programs to provide trauma-informed and culturally relevant support services to victims and survivors of human trafficking. It is also enhancing its work to combat human trafficking by expanding support for young adults who are aging out of care, a population who is particularly at-risk. The Government is also investing in a national awareness campaign to educate Canadians on the misperceptions around human trafficking and how to recognize warning signs. In addition, the Government is increasing training for front-line staff in key sectors to better identify and respond to suspected cases of human trafficking.

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