CNN – Canada’s largest city has arrested a man after authorities discovered “a large, clandestine organized gang of human traffickers” who trafficked people into the country, police announced Thursday.
Toronto Police Services described the gang as a drug-trafficking ring that trafficked citizens for the purpose of committing crimes in Canada, including prostitution, assault, robbery and drug trafficking.
Police said they arrested five men and five women and recovered 24 people from all areas of the city. Police had said Wednesday there were “several additional victims” who had been identified.
The five-month investigation was called Project Tarsh and targeted men in the Richmond Hill and Weston area of Toronto, Toronto Police Services said. It was launched in August 2018 and led by the York Regional Police. The search involved about 1,000 officers across the Greater Toronto Area.
Authorities said some of the victims were children while others were young adults, and some had suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse. The group of those rescued was predominantly female, ranging in age from 14 to 25. Some were Asian, of primarily Asian descent, according to police.
“The dismantling of this organized gang is truly a proud moment for the men and women of Toronto Police Services,” Chief Mark Saunders said. “We need the strong public support that results in the simultaneous apprehension of violent and violent criminals. Without the public’s help and our protective techniques, it would be impossible to return these victims to their families.”
Saunders called on residents to report crimes related to trafficking.
“We will fight until we see our victims, regardless of where they live, who they are, where they’re from or what they look like,” he said.
Police said that while the investigation was ongoing, they would keep in contact with the victims and their families.
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