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Hundreds arrested in multi-province human trafficking operation

Thirty-one people, including a central “kingpin,” have been arrested and more than 300 charges laid in a major investigation into human trafficking and organized crime that started when two Quebec women contacted police in Ontario.

At a news conference on Wednesday in Aurora, York Regional Police said they uncovered a network of criminals who used fraud to help fund a trafficking operation across Canada.

The year-long investigation, Project Convalesce, involved extensive time and efforts by four police services from Ontario and one from Quebec, reporters were told.

York Regional Police Inspector Thai Truong said the project began when two female victims of trafficking contacted them last year about a suspected pimp.

Truong said the Quebec women were based in Ontario and had tried to flee the suspect described by police as the “kingpin.”

Ultimately, police identified 12 confirmed victims as well as 33 other women who police believe had contact with the group over the last year. The confirmed victims range in age from 20 to mid-30s.

Truong also said the majority of the women came from Quebec but had been moved to Ontario and then to other provinces.

Truong told reporters the investigation remains ongoing, with police still seeking several suspects.

York police also said they continue to urge human trafficking victims to seek assistance. CINEWS

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