Windsor police participate in human trafficking investigation

Windsor police along with several other police departments in Ontario took part in a nationwide human trafficking investigation.
Windsor police spoke with a total of eight girls and women in the sex trade, as part of a nationwide sex trafficking investigation. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)

Windsor police along with several other police departments in Ontario took part in a nationwide human trafficking investigation. 

Officers arranged to meet with people suspected of being involved in the sex trade in a number of cities, including Windsor, in a campaign dubbed Operation Northern Spotlight.

Locally, police spoke with a total of eight girls and women, who were provided with safety plans and resources to leave the sex trade business

Windsor police say a 16-year-old girl from the Greater Toronto Area was arrested on outstanding warrants. A 17-year-old girl was rescued and placed in a local women's shelter, while a woman who spoke with officers said she plans to leave the sex trade and accepted resources to help her.

Shelley Gilbert, the co-ordinator of social work service at Legal Assistance of Windsor, said it's hard to say if sex-trade activity is increasing or decreasing in the city. But it's clear that it is changing.

"I think that the industry is always sort of evolving. At one point, we saw many women working particular streets in the city of Windsor. We've now seen that that has changed somewhat and more and more women are posting on internet sites and using hotels," she told CBC News in an interview.

"So either they are working out of those hotels or they are going from site to site, where their customers are asking them to go. So it is less visible perhaps for the larger community to see, but that doesn't mean that there's any less of a sex trade in Windsor."

Gilbert said it appears the age of women in the sex trade is decreasing.

"Certainly, the women that we are working with are getting younger. I think that is indicative of the fact that there may be increasing numbers. More and more women are coming into the city and are leaving the city as well, to work in other communities across the province and the country," she said.

With files from the CBC's John Van Dusen