POLITICS

More charges possible in Canada-wide human-smuggling, prostitution ring: Crown

04/02/2015 12:49 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - More serious charges such as gangsterism and human trafficking could be in the works against people arrested in an alleged Canada-wide prostitution ring, the Crown said Thursday.

Two more people — Daegun Chun, 46, and Yong Li, 31 — appeared in court to face charges related to the alleged smuggling of more than 500 Asian women into the country for the purposes of trafficking them in prostitution.

Prosecutor Gianni Cuffaro objected to the release of the two Toronto residents, who will return to court Tuesday.

So far, those arrested have been charged with procuring, procuring minors, advertising sexual services and gaining a material benefit from sexual services.

"The proof is overwhelming, very substantial and there are a lot of documents to study," Cuffaro said outside the courtroom.

"Obviously, the RCMP had to proceed fast in this case, so we deposited the major indictments and there's still a lot of evidence to study and there might be other accusations in the near future.

"Those accusations would be illegal passing of human beings, trafficking in human beings and gangsterism."

He did not know when they might be laid.

Police said the alleged victims, mainly from Korea and China, received assistance from a criminal organization to enter the country under false pretences before being exploited and made to work under conditions described as appalling. After several weeks or months, they were returned home.

The accused are allegedly part of an Asian-based organized crime ring that operated in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Charged earlier this week were Le Yu, 38, and Anyang Cui, 26, both of Montreal, and Kai Chen, 37, and Nan Wu, 33, from suburban Notre-Dame-de-L'Ile-Perrot.

Three of the four were denied bail and will have a hearing on April 29. The other was released on conditions.

Jeonghwan Seo, 34, of Toronto, was nabbed in Jasper, Alta., late Wednesday and became the seventh person to be caught.

That leaves Melanie Williams-Johnson, 20, of Montreal, on the lam.

"We're still objecting to the release (of the others), we still believe we have strong proof that supports detention while awaiting trial," Cuffaro said.

RCMP Const. Erique Gasse said 500 is a conservative estimate for the number of alleged victims and that the police probe began in January 2014.

Cuffaro was reluctant to go into detail about the alleged victims.

Police have also seized more than $500,000, two vehicles, as well as computers and mobile phones integral to the case.

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Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the two people flown to Montreal were both men