Update: Two men charged with human trafficking in Operation Hellbender

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – As the result of an investigation by the Nova Scotia RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section, two more Ontario men have been arrested and charged in relation to a national human trafficking investigation that took place over the course of the last 18 months. This follows the May 2017 arrest of thirty-one year-old Lorenzo Trevor Thomas. Throughout the course of the investigation, numerous human trafficking victims were identified.

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On August 25 at approximately 3:45 p.m., Nova Scotia RCMP arrested thirty-one-year-old Malachi Almonzo Downey of Vaughn, Ontario in Upper Onslow, Colchester County. On August 27 at approximately 12:30 p.m., Nova Scotia RCMP arrested 29-year-old Sanderico Rekel Beals of Scarborough, Ontario in Dartmouth.

Downey and Beals are each charged with:

  • Trafficking in Persons
  • Receiving a Material Benefit from Sexual Services
  • Receiving a Material Benefit from Trafficking in Persons
  • Laundering Proceeds of Crime

Downey is also charged with Possession of Percocet.

Both men were remanded into custody and appeared in Dartmouth Provincial Court on August 28 at 9 a.m.

“By arresting and charging these human traffickers today, we are removing them from a position to exploit more young women and girls in Nova Scotia and across Canada,” says Supt. Alfredo Bangloy, Federal Policing Officer. “Our goal is to get victims to safety and link them with resources and support to break the cycle of violence.”

If you suspect that you are or have been trafficked or believe someone you know is being trafficked, the RCMP has created a tip line for citizens to call or text at 902-449-2425. The phone will be monitored 24 hours a day by a member of the Federal Serious & Organized Crime Section. All calls are confidential. However, should you wish to remain anonymous, you can also contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or text TIP202 + your message to ‘CRIMES’ (274637) or submit tips by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca. Calls to Crime Stoppers are not taped or traced and if police make an arrest and lay charges based on a tip, callers qualify for a cash award.

“Sometimes people don’t realize that they’re victims of human trafficking. The relationship between victim and trafficker can take many forms so it’s important to learn the warning signs,” says Cst. Natasha Jamieson, Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit. “If you have any doubt about whether you or someone you know may be a victim, please contact us.”

Background:

Operation Hellbender

Operation Hellbender commenced in April 2016 after information came forward to the Nova Scotia RCMP indicating that men originally from Nova Scotia had relocated to Ontario and were trafficking and exploiting women from Nova Scotia in the sex trade across Canada. Human trafficking involves controlling, forcing, intimidating or deceiving a person in order to exploit him or her through various forms of sexual exploitation or forced labour.

As part of Operation Hellbender, RCMP officers from Nova Scotia travelled across the country in an effort to locate victims of human trafficking from Nova Scotia. Due to the complexity of the investigation, officers worked with RCMP from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Halifax Regional Police. Assistance was provided by Halifax Regional Police, Niagara Regional Police, York Regional Police and Toronto Police Service.

A fact sheet on signs someone may be trafficked and how to report human trafficking is attached.

Nova Scotia RCMP


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