Three Toronto-area men have been arrested on human trafficking charges after allegedly forcing a 15-year-old British Columbia girl to have sex with men for money over a period of three weeks.
Three men, Ahmadu Ahmed and Maher Saleh, both 20 years old, and 19-year-old Jerome Laing, all from Toronto, were arrested last week on human trafficking charges after their 15-year-old victim managed to inform police of her situation on December 17. According to police, the young girl had traveled from British Columbia to Ontario in September in order to visit family members, when she was introduced to one of the men. The two exchanged phone numbers, and in November, the man called the teen and asked her if she wanted to go out.
The man with whom the young girl spoke, along with a second man, picked her up and allegedly gave her a “large quantity of alcohol and drugs.” The two then took the girl to a Toronto-area hotel room, where they took photos of her partially undressed, and posted them on an website used specifically for sexual services. The men then told the girl that she had to pay for the hotel room and their transportation costs by having sex with men for money, and giving the money to them. For three weeks, the young girl was forced into the human trafficking world.
According to CTV News, officers said in a press release that to fulfill her role in their sick human trafficking escapade, she was sometimes forced to have sex with ten or more clients a day, in hotels across Oshawa, Toronto, and Niagara Falls.
“They told her what to charge her clients for specific sex acts. She was forced to work, over a period of three weeks, in various hotels in Oshawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls, on a daily basis.”
At one point, police say, the young girl was kicked out of a hotel in Oshawa, and the human traffickers told her she would have to take on even more clients to pay for the inconvenience of being kicked out of the hotel. Following this incident, a third man, Jerome Liang, was brought into the human trafficking operation to help book hotel rooms for the girl and her clients in Oshawa.
On December 17, the young girl managed to contact police, and an investigation was launched by Toronto police’s Human Trafficking Enforcement Team. The three men were arrested on various charges between June 2 and June 6, after a six month investigation into the human trafficking operation.
Global News reports that Ahmadu Ahmed and Maher Saleh are each facing six charges relating to human trafficking, including trafficking in persons under 18 years old, advertising another person’s sexual services and material benefit from sexual services. The third man, Jerome Liang, is facing three charges related to human trafficking that include trafficking in persons under 18 years old, receiving material benefit from sexual services and receiving material benefit under 18 years.
Jerome Liang appeared in court on June 2, and Ahmed and Saleh on June 6. No charges have been proven in court as of the time of this writing.
Police officers say that they are concerned that there could be more potential human trafficking victims, and are urging anyone with information to please come forward.
“We want to make sure that everyone has access to support services and an exit strategy, regardless of their decision to proceed criminally.”
Ahmed, Saleh, and Liang are the second group of people tied to human trafficking arrested in Toronto this week. Officers also arrested a man and women team, 27-year-old Akeil Purcell, and 24-year-old Shanika Spaulding, on Wednesday, on multiple charges related to the illegal sex trade.
Anyone with information on either of these human trafficking operations, or any others, are asked to contact Toronto police at 416-808-7400, or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477 (TIPS).
[Image via Toronto Police Handout]