Thunder Bay·Audio

Girl, 17, found in Thunder Bay hotel was put to work as prostitute: police

A 20-year-old Toronto man was charged with human trafficking after a 17-year-old female from southern Ontario was found in a Thunder Bay south side hotel. Another male was charged as a young offender.

Social media was used to prostitute girl from southern Ontario, say Thunder Bay police

Two Toronto-area men have been charged with human trafficking after a 17-year-old girl from southern Ontario was found in a Thunder Bay hotel. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

An investigator with the Thunder Bay Police Service says distance is one possible reason two males allegedly brought a 17-year-old girl to the city from southern Ontario earlier this month to be put to work as a prostitute.

On Jan. 9, a 20-year-old Toronto-area man was charged with human trafficking after a teen from southern Ontario was found in a Thunder Bay hotel.

A second male, charged as a young offender, faces charges of human trafficking, living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18 years, and distribution of child pornography. He was arrested Jan. 16 by Peel Regional police.

Staff Sgt.Ryan Hughes, of the Thunder Bay force's Criminal Investigations Branch, said he believes these are the first human trafficking charges ever laid in Thunder Bay.

He added that the city is also seeing a general increase in criminal traffic from southern Ontario.

"We are seeing out of town people come up here...and we have discussed and the chief has mentioned before, the drug activity and the gangs, " he said. "Thunder Bay is a lucrative market, so as far as prostitution, it's been around forever and there is always people willing to pay for services."

 Hughes said the 17 year-old had been in the city for about a week.

"They were prostituting her," he continued, adding that human traffickers will often try to get their victims away from family.

"So it's not an escort service," he said. "I believe through social media there was ads for her. But it was not an escort service per-se."

Hughes said getting to the perpetrators of human trafficking is difficult because the victims are often afraid to speak for fear their families will be put in danger.

Hughes said the teen is back home with her family.

A multi-jurisdictional investigation is ongoing, he added.

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