23 April, 2017
York Regional Police will release more details Friday on a child sex trafficking investigation that resulted in the arrest of more than 100 men accused of "purchasing prostituted children". Thai Truong said undercover officers put ads online to find men looking for sex.
Of the hundreds of men who had responded to the infiltrators' advertisements, most stopped contacting them when they discovered that they appeared to be in contact with underage girls.
Police have successfully arrested traffickers in the past who force children into the sex trade, Truong noted, but the prosecution is arduous on the victims.
The goal of the undercover operation was to reduce demand for child prostitution by putting the men who seek it out behind bars, according to police.
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When potential clients were told the "girls" were aged 13 to 16, most men dropped the matter, but 104 attempted to arrange meetings and were subsequently arrested. "We see a lot of lives destroyed".
"I would be very careful and gentle with you".
Human trafficking investigators launched Project Raphael in 2014, which Truong said was a three-pronged approach to combating the issue in the region. Five of the cases have been withdrawn while three went to trial and the suspects were found guilty.
"These men believed they were luring children and I think if we stand by and we look at things and feel like we have to wait until a child gets sexually assaulted and harmed, I don't think we're doing our job as police".
"All of the people who were caught in the sting were prepared to pay money for sex with children".