Winnipeg police launch anti-human-trafficking program
Officers meet with women in hotels to offer support, resources to get out of sex trade
Winnipeg police participated in a national program to combat human trafficking last week.
Officers interviewed 15 women at hotels throughout the city, some of which police believed were being forced to participate in the sex trade.
Investigators weren’t there to lay charges against the women though, they offered support services including health care and options for mental and emotional supports.
Sgt. Gene Bowers of the counter exploitation unit said officers were looking for women who were under someone else's control.
"Some women actually were aware that we were doing this and actually still came to the hotel or met with us to talk to us about it," he said. "They're actually quite happy that we're doing this because it makes it safer for them."
Bowers said it's important for police to work together because people in the sex trade and human trafficking move around a lot.
The program, dubbed Operation Northern Spotlight, had law enforcement officials in 30 cities interview more than 330 women. Some were was young as 15 years old.
Officials said the program was aimed at combating human trafficking or sexual slavery by providing outside support to the women.
In Winnipeg, officers found the women were advertised on websites where clients would call or text a cell phone number to arrange liaisons at local hotels or motels.
Winnipeg police said they will continue to investigate cases where women are being forced into the sex trade.
Anyone with information about a person who is being trafficked is asked to contact police at 204-986-3464.