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Massive human trafficking probe leads to over 300 charges across GTA, Quebec

Last Updated Oct 16, 2019 at 9:35 pm EST

Police across Ontario and Quebec say they’ve dismantled a sophisticated human trafficking ring run by an organized crime group that allegedly forced dozens of women and underage girls to work in the sex trade.

On Wednesday, police in York Region announced more than 300 charges after 34 search warrants were executed last week at numerous locations across the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec.

Thirty-one people were arrested in what police dubbed Project Convalesce —  a multi-provincial probe that began in October 2018 after two woman attempted to escape and contacted police.

That led police to begin investigating a man named Jonathan Nyangwila, who police contend was the kingpin of the operation.

Police say the group was also involved in fraud, drug dealing and weapons offences.

Investigators say 12 alleged victims have been identified, but they believe more than 30 women were forced to work for the group. Police allege the group used violence to assure compliance.

“Despite enduring violent assaults, sexual assaults, torture and other degrading circumstances, many victims are too fearful to come forward and often deny the events completely,” York regional police said in a release. “Officers will be continuing the work to assist these victims and connect them with support.”

Police say the majority of the woman came from Quebec, and were moved to Ontario to work in the sex trade.

“York Regional Police will continue to offer assistance and support to the victims of violent human trafficking,” Chief Eric Jolliffe said. “I commend the officers involved in this investigation for their diligent work in dismantling this organized crime ring.”

Thirty-one people were arrested in what police dubbed Project Convalesce. HANDOUT/York Regional Police