Montreal

Teen's temporary disappearance from group home raised fears of F1 sex trade

A teenage girl who fled a youth centre in Laval has been located. But her disappearance raised concerns about the sex trade that accompanies Grand Prix.

Montreal police and human rights groups have been warning about F1's impact on sex trafficking

The woman says her daughter went missing on Friday night. (CBC)

A teenage girl who fled a youth centre in Laval on Friday night has been located.

The 16-year-old girl's mother had reached out to Radio-Canada on Saturday morning, expressing fear she had been lured into the sex trade that accompanies the Grand Prix.

Laval police provided few details about the case, except to say the girl was in good health and had returned on her own accord.  

Earlier this week, a human rights groups launched an awareness campaign about the increase in human trafficking and sexual exploitation that occurs during the popular F1 race. Montreal police are also campaigning about the dangers of the sex trade this weekend.

Given these concerns, the teen's mother had questioned why there wasn't more of a police presence in front of the Laval youth centre.  

"It's the worst weekend for girls of that age," the mother told Radio-Canada.

"It was everywhere in the media. We are watching the airports, the downtown. But the youth centre? No."

Past disappearances 

That particular centre, the Centre Jeunesse de Laval, has been the site of several disappearances in recent months, prompting the provincial government to launch an independent review of its operations.

Laval police launched an investigation in the wake of the disappearances, which lead to the arrest of eight men in April on charges of seeking sexual services from minors.

Police would not confirm that the 16-year-old girl who went missing Friday was a resident at the youth centre. 

They did, however, say that four teenagers — three girls and one boy — have disappeared from Laval since Thursday. Some of these teenagers have run away in the past, police said.

"Because the F1 is in town, that doesn't necessarily mean that's where they are," said Laval police spokesman Franco Di Genova.

"It will be looked at, for sure. But we have to look at everything else." 

The youth centre said they weren't available to comment.

With files from Radio-Canada

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