Barrie police part of Ontario operation targeting human trafficking

An operation by a number of police forces across the province resulted in seven people being secured from exploitive situations, including two under 18.
The investigation, Operation Northern Spotlight, was part of a coordinated, national effort to end human trafficking. Over a seven-day period, police services across Ontario participated in the operation, laying 45 charges 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).
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.
“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 amongst all our partners to be effective,” Rick Barnum, Deputy Commissioner, OPPP Investigations and Organized Crime, is quoted saying.
During Operation Northern Spotlight, police met 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.
The Barrie Police Service was among the operation’s participants.
“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,” Detective Staff Sergeant Coyer Yateman, Anti-Human Trafficking Investigation Coordination Team, Ontario Provincial Police, is quoted saying.