London, Ontario – More than two dozen men were charged with obtaining sexual services and contact was made with more than 50 women and girls involved in the sex trade during a six-week project targeting human trafficking in London, Woodstock, St. Thomas and Strathroy.
Led by the London Police Service (LPS), Project Circuit was a joint-force operation that included officers from Strathroy-Caradoc, St. Thomas and Woodstock police services and the Ontario Provincial Police, a LPS crime analyst, as well as a representative from the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Between October 16 and November 23, 2018, 25 men were arrested and charged with the following Criminal Code of Canada offences:
- Obtaining sexual services for consideration (22 charges)
- Trafficking a person under the age of 18 (1 charge)
- Dangerous driving (1 charge)
- Driving while disqualified (1 charge)
- Mislead police (1 charge)
“The primary focus of Project Circuit was to make personal contact with women involved in the sex trade and to offer assistance so it was really an overwhelming success,” said Detective David Ellyatt, head of the Human Trafficking Unit. “We made contact with 56 women and girls and were able to help two victims of human trafficking get out and get help.”
The age range of those contacted was between 16 and 41 years and included high school and post-secondary students. The majority were from London (24), while others were from the Greater Toronto Area (11), Quebec (seven), Hong Kong (two), as well as from some smaller cities within Ontario (eight).
The women and girls were offered assistance through police victim services and local women’s support groups. They were also offered backpacks that contained clothing, toiletries, and gift cards to assist in getting them home.
Several ‘john stings’ were conducted as part of the project. An ad was posted online for six days, during which it received more than 9,000 views. “This one ad continues to receive text messages from more than 100 people looking to purchase sex,” said Det. Ellyatt. “This speaks volumes to the demand that is fueling the exploitation of women in our community.”
The London Police Service Human Trafficking Unit was created in January 2017, in response to the ongoing issue of human trafficking within our community. The unit works cooperatively with other police agencies and community partners to assist trafficked persons to leave their situation and investigates the persons responsible.
Anyone with information in relation to any incident involving human trafficking is asked to call the London Police Service at (519) 661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent in on-line anonymously to http://www.londoncrimestoppers.com.
“The Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service is proud to be involved in collaborative approaches with our policing partners. The statistics show that human trafficking knows no boundaries and negatively affects communities large and small. We look forward to ongoing joint efforts to reduce the impact human trafficking has on community safety.” – Acting Staff Sergeant Brent Cushman, Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service
“As part of Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking, this is another great example of law enforcement working together to combat this deplorable crime. Together we will continue to investigate this serious crime to help free victims who were recruited by means of threats, fraud or coercion from a cycle of violence and abuse.” – Detective Staff Sergeant Coyer Yateman, Anti-Human Trafficking Investigation Coordination Team, Ontario Provincial Police
London Police Service
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