Manitoba

Winnipeg police arrest 8 men, find 11 missing youth in weekend exploitation crackdown

A total of 11 missing at-risk young people and two missing adults were located as part of a weekend sweep in Winnipeg aimed at protecting people at high risk of being sexually exploited.

Project Return is a joint task force involving police, community outreach groups

Winnipeg police conducted Project Return on the weekend, aimed at finding missing youth and helping people at risk of sexual exploitation. (CBC)

A total of 11 missing at-risk young people and two missing adults were located as part of a weekend sweep in Winnipeg aimed at protecting people at high risk of being sexually exploited.

As well, eight men ranging in age from 26 to 56 were arrested for obtaining sexual services and seven vehicles were seized, the Winnipeg Police Service said.

The crackdown was part of the annual Project Return, a joint task force involving the Winnipeg Police counter-exploitation and missing persons unit in partnership with outreach workers from StreetReach, Winnipeg Outreach Network, Ndinawe, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Resource Assistance for Youth and the Salvation Army.

Police said in a news release on Thursday that when they started the three-day initiative on Friday, there were 26 youth reported as missing.

Through the weekend, they checked 44 locations known to be frequented by high-risk missing young people, provided 45 people with snack packs and harm reduction kits, and made 15 contacts as part of an effort to identify and help people involved in sexual exploitation.

They also arrested two people on outstanding warrants.

So far in 2020, police have received 4,971 missing person reports, they said. On average, 566 reports of missing people are received monthly.

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