Two separate police investigations have culminated in the arrests of at least two people in what police are saying are unrelated cases of human trafficking.
Calgary, Alberta - In one case, police allege Linh Quy Ho posed as a hair stylist, using a hair salon to set up prostitutes with clients. The prostitutes were women from China who were forced to work in the sex trade. The investigation identified several houses which police say were used as bawdy houses. Linh Quy Ho also attempted to sell the prostitutes as sex slaves, asking as little as $4,000 each. Linh Quy Ho was charged with "... unlawfully keeping a common bawdy house, trafficking in persons, material benefit from trafficking in persons, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, possession of property obtained by crime and living of the avails of prostitution." Police apparently were tracking Linh Quy Ho's ads for sexual services provided by young Asian women. Undercover police officers purchased two young women for $8,000. The women were advertised as teenagers, but were later found to be older. Police Superintendent Roger Chaffin told the media "Human trafficking is a hugely profitable industry in the world. In terms of the price for these particular girls — again it is a fairly rare investigation so I don't know that this price, how common that price was — but it's a shocking thing to see humans traded for money and for a relatively low amount of money."
In the second case, not linked to the first, Codie Toby Cardinal was luring Canadian girls to Calgary through social networking sites. He pretended to be an agent for models, and promised to find them modelling work in Calgary. Once they arrived, he forced them to work as prostitutes. Cardinal has been charged with "... two counts of trafficking in persons, two counts of material benefit from trafficking in persons, procuring a person to become a prostitute, living on the avails of prostitution and living on the avails of a prostitute under the age of 18." Cardinal is said to have advertised the charms of the girls through online advertising. Police found and apprehended three teenagers and one 20 year old woman. Two of the women have gone home and the other two are in protective custody. None of the young women will be charged. The teens were apprehended under the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act.
The RCMP told the press"...15,000 people are trafficked through Canada each year."
Other Canadians are at risk of falling victim to trafficking, particularly Aboriginal children. Experts say human trafficking in Canada is prevalent and wide spread. "On the street corners of Canada's largest cities, thousands of women are bought and sold every night. Most of them ... are aboriginal and an alarming number are trafficked."
While police have said that arrests are rare, various organizations have been trying to call attention to human trafficking in Canada for years.
A 2006 report on US/Canada organized crime said that human trafficking was the 3rd largest source of revenue for organized crime. People are not only used for the sex trade, but are put to work in sweatshops or restaurants after they have been smuggled into Canada.
Canada does not have a minimum sentence for a person convicted of human trafficking, although a member's bill to set a minimum sentance was been introduced to the House of Commons earlier this year, asking for a minimum of five years to be set.