By Jake Kigar for The National Post on February 19, 2014—
“York Regional Police have charged 10 men with more than 95 criminal offences after a two-month sexual exploitation and human trafficking investigation involving girls as young as 14.
Det.-Sgt. Peter Casey said investigations identified 31 girls working in the sex trade, with almost 30% under the age of 18 and the majority not from the York Region.
Police interviews with the 31 victims found that the average age they entered the sex trade was 14, with 10% of the girls saying they entered at 13.
The victims were mainly from elsewhere in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland; only three were from York region.
The accused include Anthony Putzu, 21, of Brampton, Lucas Gabrys, 24, of London and Mohamed Wehelie, 28, from Toronto. The 10 accused are from Mississauga, Toronto, Brampton, Ottawa, Calgary and London.
Putzu faces 13 charges, including human trafficking, obtaining the sexual services of a person under 18 and living on the avails of a juvenile prostitute. Gabrys faces 10 charges for allegedly procuring young girls online and forcing them to work in the sex trade. Wehelie’s charges relate to an alleged sexual assault after he sought out sex trade workers online. Police say they fear he may reoffend.
Det.-Sgt. Casey reminds that “our victims can be anyone” and says police are making “aggressive efforts” to get young women out of the sex trade.
Investigators hope to speak with more people who may require assistance or a way out.
Police believe there are more victims out there with connections to the three main accused and ask that anyone with information contact York Regional Police at 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7817 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.”
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