Saskatoon woman accused of human trafficking to plead not guilty to charges: lawyer

A 23-year-old woman accused of recruiting and controlling three women made her first appearance in Saskatoon provincial court Friday morning.

Dilshad Ali Zada accused of recruiting women, stealing money from victims to exert control

A 23-year-old woman charged with human trafficking made her first court appearance on the charges Friday. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

A 23-year-old Saskatoon woman accused of human trafficking plans to plead not guilty to a raft of charges, according to her lawyer.

Dilshad Ali Zada, who lives in Saskatoon but is originally from Quebec, faces 10 charges including trafficking in persons, theft and uttering threats.

According to information filed in court Friday, Zada allegedly sexually exploited and controlled the movements of three women: two 20-year-olds from Quebec and an 18-year-old from Moose Jaw. The names of the alleged victims are under a publication ban.

Zada is also accused of stealing money, ID and a dog.

Kevin Hill, Zada's defence attorney, said Friday his client intends to plead not guilty and face her charges.

Bail hearing on Monday

In a news release issued Thursday, Saskatoon police alleged the victims were recruited by either social media or personal introductions.

The force's vice squad investigated Zada, whose alleged crimes span from November 2018 to March 2019. She was arrested Wednesday night, according to Staff Sgt. Grant Obst of the service's target enforcement section, which includes the vice squad.

Police said the women were forced to work in a number of cities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

'Not little town anymore'

The sex trade has operated in the city for decades, but human trafficking "is not an area where we've had a lot of experience here in Saskatoon," Obst said.

"It almost always includes a situation where you've got an individual who has recruited someone into the sex trade, has enticed them with, perhaps, the promises of making a lot of money, having a lavish lifestyle.

Staff Sgt. Grant Obst of the Saskatoon Police Service says that while the sex trade is nothing new to the city, human trafficking charges are rare. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"The terms of the arrangement change very quickly and we start to see things like intimidation, violence and coercion being used to keep the individual involved in the exploited activity."

Victims are also moved location to location, Obst said.

Some people have been surprised by the charges. They shouldn't be, he said.

"We're not little town anymore and this type of activity? You see [it] where there's a market."


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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