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Monday, April 15, 2024
NOTL man among 13 charged in human trafficking investigation
Niagara Regional Police arrested 13 men in a human-trafficking investigation. FILE

An unidentified 51-year-old Niagara-on-the-Lake man is among 13 people charged with human-trafficking offences following a Niagara Regional Police investigation.

None of the 13 men charged were named following a court-ordered ban on the release of their identities.

Niagara police said their human trafficking unit launched a project this month targeting people using the internet to communicate and meet in person with young people believed to be offering sexual services for money.

Between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, Niagara detectives in conjunction with the Ontario Provincial Police and other law enforcement agencies arrested the 13 men at a hotel in Niagara Falls.

All but two of the accused are from Niagara. The others are from Buffalo and Windsor, police said.

All have been charged with the Criminal Code offences of luring a child for the purpose of obtaining sexual services, obtaining sexual services from a person under 18 and inviting or counselling sexual exploitation of a young person.

The accused were held in custody and attended video bail hearings.

The investigation also included regional police from across Ontario, the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the RCMP.

In a news release, Niagara Regional Police Chief Bill Fordy said, “These arrests showcase the dedication of our members in ensuring some of the most vulnerable members of our community are protected, sending a strong message that the predatory behaviours associated with human trafficking will not be tolerated in Niagara.”

“We are committed to fighting human trafficking through intelligence-gathering and working co-operatively with law enforcement and community partners to support victims and enforcement efforts,” Fordy said.

“Integrated resources, the sharing of information, a victim-centred approach and community partnerships are crucial to law enforcement’s effective response to this kind of crime.”

The investigation remains ongoing, police said.

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