London police say more than two dozen men were arrested and charged as a result of a human trafficking investigation.
The charges came by way of a six-week project launched by London police to target human trafficking in London, Woodstock, St.Thomas and Strathroy.
26 charges were laid between Oct. 16 and Nov. 23. Police say the most common charge laid as a result of Project Circuit was “obtaining sexual services for consideration” at 22 charges.
As part of the project, police posted an ad online offering sex services for six day, during which it received over 9,000 views. Detective David Ellyat, head of the Human Trafficking Unit, said “this speaks volumes to the demand that is fueling the exploitation of women in our community” adding that “(the) ad continues to receive text messages from more than 100 people looking to purchase sex.”
Ellyat says his biggest hope was to make a connection to victims.
“The primary focus of Project Circuit was to make personal contact with women involved in the sex trade and to offer assistance.”
Ellyat referred to the project as “an overwhelming success,” that helped the lives of many women involved.
London police say that women were offered assistance through police victim services and local women’s support groups. Police also offered victims backpacks that contained clothing, toiletries, and gift cards to assist them in getting home.
The project was a joint-force operation that included officers from Strathroy-Caradoc, St. Thomas and Woodstock police services as well as the Ontario Provincial Police.
“We made contact with 56 women and girls and were able to help two victims of human trafficking get out and get help,” said Ellyat.
London police ask that anyone with information on human trafficking call London Police Service at (519) 661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent in on-line anonymously to http://www.londoncrimestoppers.com.