Waterloo Regional Police involved in joint investigation into human trafficking

Police in 36 different jurisdictions across Ontario have charged 25 people in a human trafficking investigation.

No arrests made locally in Operation Northern Spotlight

Waterloo Regional Police were involved in a multi-force investigation across Ontario that has led to 25 arrests in connection with human trafficking.

Operation Northern Spotlight was part of a six-day investigation that involved 36 police services across the province. According to a release from Ottawa police, they were "able to ensure the safety" of 16 people working in the sex trade as a minor or against their will.

A total of 67 charges have been laid.

No arrests locally

Staff Sergeant Eugene Fenton with Waterloo Regional Police said there were no arrests in the region, but investigators were able to connect with a number of women working in the sex trade.

"We engaged with seven females here locally and none of them are currently identifying as being involved in human trafficking," Fenton said. "We are going to be continuing to investigate a couple of instances as we still have some concerns there may be control issues there."

Fenton said a human trafficking investigation would be launched when a sex trade worker states they are being held against their will and ask police for assistance.

Dent in human trafficking provincially

This investigation has been labelled as the fifth installment of Operation Northern Spotlight, which usually happens once a year.

While no arrests were made in the region Fenton said from a provincial standpoint, any arrest in this type of crime is a dent to human trafficking.

"Any time a victim can be rescued and a message can be sent to others perpetrating this crime that there are repercussions, there are benefits for all victims, current and future," Fenton said.