Human trafficking crackdown on sex trade across Canada yields 47 people charged
20 people rescued during investigation, some as young as 14 years old, most under 19
Dozens of people have been charged with 137 offences related to human trafficking as part of a Canada-wide crackdown on the illegal sex trade.
Representatives from some of the 40 different police services involved — including the OPP and RCMP — announced the arrests at a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., Thursday morning.
In addition to the 47 arrests made in Operation Northern Spotlight, police were able to ensure the safety of 20 people who had been working in the sex trade as minors or against their will.
Most of the victims were under 19 years of age; some were as young as 14.
Police said the charges laid in the investigation include trafficking in persons, forcible confinement, child pornography and sexual assault with a weapon.
Timea Nagy appeared at Thursday's news conference and told how she was brought to Canada from Hungary as a 20-year-old in a separate but similar human trafficking operation more than a decade ago.
'Invisible chain' on victims
"I came to Canada thinking I'd be doing janitorial work, maybe babysitting, and when I got to the airport with no English, I was informed that I was actually there to do exotic dancing," she said.
You can watch part of Nagy's powerful story in the video at the top of this story.
Nagy said she was denied food and forced to work in a strip club for 20 hours a day. She was also not allowed to leave a motel where traffickers kept her when she wasn't working.
"I would go down from 125 pounds to 89 pounds in the first two weeks," she said.
Eventually Nagy was able to escape after three months but didn't talk about her ordeal for 12 years.
"I didn't know I was the victim of a horrible crime," she said. "I thought it was all my fault. It is a ghost crime, and the chains are not on our hands, they're in our brains. It's an invisible chain."