Men arrested in connection with alleged human trafficking of young woman
2 men, both 18, are facing 56 charges in total
Toronto police have arrested two men in connection with the alleged human trafficking of a 19-year-old woman.
Police say that Tyrel McLean and Dante Thaxter, both 18, forced the woman into the sex trade, shot her, and prevented her from seeking treatment for her gunshot wound.
McLean and Thaxter are facing 56 charges in total.
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Sex Crimes Human Trafficking Enforcement Team Detective Sergeant Nunzio Tramontozzi said that between Jan. 8 and Feb. 10, 2018, the men took photographs of the woman in various degrees of undress, created ads for sexual services, and posted them online.
"She was taken to various jurisdictions including Toronto, Peel, Durham and York Region, where she stayed in various Airbnb rentals and was forced to provide sexual services to clients," Tramontozzi said during a news conference at police headquarters on Thursday.
Tramontozzi says that using Airbnb rentals is a trend investigators have observed in human trafficking cases in recent years.
"We're seeing an emerging trend with human traffickers using more Airbnbs in the city of Toronto, in the GTA. It's more anonymous for them so it's a lot easier not to be caught by the police when they are in these private residences other than hotels, motels where we could get more information," he said.
Tramontozzi said the men took the woman's identification and forced her to turn over all the money she earned to them.
Victim was shot after argument
It is further alleged that on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, the men were with the woman at Idlewood Inn on Kingston Road when they got into a verbal argument during which she told them that she no longer wanted to be an escort.
"One of the men provided the other man with a .45 calibre semi-automatic handgun. He pointed the firearm at her face and she attempted to push the firearm away, fearing she would be shot," Tramontozzi explained.
He said the man became angry and fired a shot, striking the woman in the buttocks area.
The men then took her from the hotel room and drove her to an unknown address in the Toronto area.
Tramontozzi said that between Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, and Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, the men transported the woman to several addresses in the GTA, and refused to seek medical attention for her gunshot wound.
He said the woman was able to escape and sought medical attention at a hospital in Brampton.
Police believe there are other victims
Police are concerned there may be other victims and Tramontozzi is urging them "to come forward to get help." He fears the victims could be living in "horrible" conditions.
The police are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).