6 charged in a sting catching those trying to solicit sex with minors

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Published November 9, 2023 at 12:17 pm

sex traffickers

Six people have been charged in a Halton Police sting operation this week aimed at catching those trying to solicit sex with minors.

Project Lonestar operated from November 6-8 with officers from the HRPS Human Trafficking Unit. During the investigation, several suspects arranged meetings for sexual services, despite being advised that they were communicating with a girl who was only 15 years old.

The six accused were arrested and charged with communicating for the purpose of obtaining sexual services with a minor.

“Human Trafficking is hidden beneath the surface but exists in communities all over Ontario. It is an alarming and reprehensible crime,” said Inspector Dave Costantini of Regional Investigations and Emergency Services, who said the human traffickers are recruiting victims as young as 13. “The conditions, situations, manipulation, exploitation and violence that victims endure are unimaginable.”

This is the second phase of this proactive project, which has the goal of identifying and arresting offenders communicating to obtain sexual services from females under the age of 18.

“The HRPS Human Trafficking Strategy mirrors our national and provincial plans,” Constantini said, adding that police will “continue to utilize proactive and preventative measures such as Project Lonestar to identify, prosecute and hold accountable those who would engage in the predatory victimization of our most vulnerable.”

Project Lonestar is the second in as many years to target those trying to obtain sexual services from children. In 2022 Halton Police conducted Project Embark, a similar project that spanned three days.

These investigations utilize covert investigative techniques, Costantini said, and due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, the HRPS will “not be releasing the names of the accused at this time. “

If you are victim or human trafficking or if you suspect someone is being trafficked, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) urges you to cal1 9-1-1 or the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010. Additional information and resources can be found on the HRPS website, here.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

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