Lucie Charlebois, the Quebec minister responsible for youth protection, says a criminal organization has infiltrated the Laval group home where three girls went missing this week.
"A network has infiltrated this particular group home," Charlebois said.
The three teenage girls who were staying at the Centre de jeunesse de Laval went missing earlier this week. Police believe they may have been targeted for sexual exploitation.
Two of the teenage girls have been found but one remains missing.
Quebec Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health Lucie Charlebois responds to reporters on Oct. 5, 2015 at the legislature in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Charlebois said the government is working with Laval police.
"We're working together to find the best ways to intervene," Charlebois said.
'It's a little bit of sensationalism'
Martin Coiteux, the Quebec minister for public security, backtracked on the issue. He told Radio-Canada that the Laval group home has not been infiltrated.
"What she wanted to say is not that there is a network, but that there is the possibility of recruitment being done externally through social media," Coiteux said.
Julie Perron-Hamilton, the vice-president of the Centre de jeunesse de Laval, blasted Charlebois for her comments, saying that all youth centres and group homes have runaways.
'They are everywhere.'
"It's a little bit of sensationalism to say that our youth centre was filtrated by a street gang," Perron-Hamilton told Radio-Canada.
Perron-Hamilton says that recruitment by prostitution rings or street gangs aren't limited to groups homes.
"Some will approach them at the entrances of youth centres or even internally," Perron-Hamilton said. "But some of them are in schools and metro stations."
"They are everywhere."
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