NOT FOR SALE – Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is not just someone being brought across a border, from another country. It is a crime that preys upon vulnerable, desperate and lonely victims. These victims are recruited, transported, held or harbored and exploited, usually for a sexual purpose. They are denied their freedom by withholding identification and travel documents. They are coerced, threatened and intimidated. Someone has observed their vulnerability, targeted them and paid attention to them.
The trafficked person usually complies with the trafficker out of necessity in order to survive. The situation is justified by the victim because it is better than where they came from. An abusive situation, substance dependency or emotional and physiological issues. The world-wide pandemic situation has slowed the Human Trafficking issue down slightly but there are ways around that and it is by virtual means.
Human Trafficking does not only exist in large cities, it exists everywhere, including Sarnia Lambton. Sarnia Police Service has dealt with females between the ages of 17 and 58 who have been in this situation. Sarnia Police Service had 47 occurrences in 2020 involving Human Trafficking. The Ontario Provincial Police have large trafficking projects province wide. The scale of their investigations are much larger and time consuming, sometimes taking years to conclude.
Before charges can be laid, the victim needs to co-operate with law enforcement. The victims are most often reluctant out of fear but help can be offered to them through counselling and safe shelter from social services and agencies within the community. It is not just women that are being trafficked. Males can be victims as well.
The 401 and the 402 highways are the main corridors used to transport these victims to various cities and communities along the route. These traffickers or “recruiters” are often from out of town. The victim is usually set up in a motel or hotel. The stay could be a few short days and sometime several weeks. The victim never leaves the room, maid service is denied and foot traffic to and from the room is frequent. The room is paid for by a third party and usually by cash, leaving no names. The victim is moved frequently into various communities.
Most victims that are being trafficked for a sexual purpose have entered into an “agreement” with the trafficker. It may be that they are seeking refugee status or are drug dependent and the trafficker fulfills that need. Once the victim has “fulfilled” the “agreement” terms, they are free to go. The “services” offered by the trafficked workers are advertised on various want ads, classified listings and escort type web sites.
You may suspect someone is being trafficked or has been trafficked by their actions. Are they fearful, depressed, submissive, withdrawn; do they seem tense or anxious, do they show signs of abuse like burns, fractures or bruises; do they have little or no personal belongings, do they seem secretive, have a new cell phone that is private; are they wearing inappropriate clothing and jewelery, too provocative for their age?
If you think you may know someone who is being trafficked, or you see suspicious activity as described, please contact Sarnia Lambton Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or go on line at www.p3tips.com. You could be eligible for a cash reward if charges are laid and you will remain anonymous.