Twenty-one police services across the province, including Durham’s, have officially launched a joint operation against human trafficking.
The Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-led Joint Forces Strategy (IJFS) was first announced in March 2020, and includes full-time investigators and analysts who will be assigned to various police agencies.
During Wednesday’s launch, officials highlighted a pair of recent investigations involving cooperation between agencies.
Project Wrigg was managed under the IJFS, started by Kingston police and aided by OPP as well as officials from Ottawa and Quebec. Investigators discovered a female victim who had been trafficked across Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton between December 2019 and January 2020. Several more potential victims were identified. Four people wound up getting arrested – all Quebec residents.
Project Harwich was started in May by Barrie police and supported by the IJFS and OPP. Investigators found a male suspect had been trafficking people out of hotels in the area. Two people were arrested in the following months.
“These two investigations show that the new [IJFS] is working in identifying, investigating and disrupting multi-jurisdictional human trafficking organizations operating in the province,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique in a statement Wednesday. “The increasing volume and the complexity of human trafficking cases requires additional support and partnerships at all levels in the communities we serve to reduce victimization and hold traffickers accountable for their crime.”
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking runs a 24/7 national hotline, at 1-833-900-1010.