NEWS

More human trafficking charges laid after 16-year-old forced into sex work

03/31/2015 09:27 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT
Toronto police laid more human trafficking charges against a trio accused of forcing teenage girls into the sex trade at downtown hotels on Tuesday after a second young woman came forward.

Police said the 16-year-old victim said she was picked up outside of the city then taken to a downtown Toronto hotel where she was forced into sex work, after which the accused took all of the money she had made.

The teenaged girl managed to escape, but later received threatening messages from the three accused saying they would harm her if she didn't return to the hotel.

The three suspects — two men aged 19 and 21, and an 18-year-old woman — were charged in a similar incident involving a 14-year-old girl in early March. At the time, police warned there may be more victims.

At a news conference Tuesday, police said the female suspect is believed to be the one who recruited the girls. Police said the suspect promised victims a life of luxury, but instead, the trio controlled the girls' every move and severely abused them.

Police said it's also possible the suspects targeted young girls from Native communities near Toronto.

Dawn Harvard, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, attended the news conference to issue a plea to anyone who could keep young girls safe.

"We need to protect the girls that are in our communities," Harvard said.

"Our girls are being stolen."

The three suspects face 10 more charges each, including charges related to human trafficking and profiting from the selling of sexual services.

Police are asking anyone with information about the accused, or anyone who was contacted by the suspects, to get in touch with police. 

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