London police say a six-week human trafficking investigation led to the arrests of more than two dozen men this fall.
“Project Circuit” ran from Oct. 16 to Nov. 23 and focused on human trafficking in London, Woodstock, St. Thomas and Strathroy.
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Police say they ran several so-called “john stings” during the investigation, which involved posting an online ad for six days. Investigators say the ad, which was viewed more than 9,000 times, has continued to pull in text messages from more than 100 people who allegedly wanted to purchase sex.
“This speaks volumes to the demand that is fuelling the exploitation of women in our community,” said Det. David Ellyatt, head of the police’s Human Trafficking Unit, in a statement on Friday.
Officers say that during the course of the investigation, they were able to make contact with 56 women and girls involved in the sex trade.
Police say the women and girls ranged in age from 16 to 41 and included high school and post-secondary students. They were able to help two victims of human trafficking get out and get help.
All of the women and girls were offered backpacks with clothing, toiletries and gift cards to help them return home.
Officers say 24 of the women were from London, 11 were from the Toronto area, seven were from Quebec and two were from Hong Kong. There were also eight women from smaller Ontario cities.
As a result of the operation, London police say they have laid charges against 25 men, including:
- 22 counts of obtaining sexual services for consideration
- One count of trafficking a person under the age of 18
- One count of dangerous driving
- One count of driving while disqualified
- One count of misleading police
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