News/Canada: 650 charges in Canadian sex slave trade

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view Other groups

Subject: News/Canada: 650 charges in Canadian sex slave trade
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 13:32:11 EDT

Comments from Melanie:

Why are the women getting arrested? This is completely outrageous!
The women are victims of a crime - trafficking and are being arrested
and tried for prostitution! Canada should be protecting the victims
of trafficking instead of prosecuting them!

Does anybody know about this? What is happening to the women? Are
they being held in detention? What can be done?

Does anybody have a contact for the people in charge of this case, as
I would like to contact them.

Thanks, Melanie....


650 charges in Canadian sex slave trade
Marina Jimenez and Stewart Bell
National Post, May 18, 2000

Police have brought 650 criminal charges against 300 club owners and sex
workers in a year-long investigation that has uncovered Canada's pivotal
role in the international trafficking of sex slaves.

But despite the unprecedented number of charges, and even after 16 raids at
Toronto strip clubs by a special task force dubbed Project Almonzo, police
admit they have failed to rein in this vast underground industry in which
corrupt recruiters manipulate and control vulnerable foreign women.

"Despite this massive investigation, we are still not in control of this
problem, as far as the magnitude of it and the amount of money being
generated," said Detective Bert O'Mara, a Toronto Police officer in charge
of the investigation.

"The women are slaves in the sense that they are bound to their exploiters
culturally, emotionally, financially and through fear."

Police raided 16 clubs, charging more than 200 men with pimping and
immigration-related offences and 100 women from Eastern Europe, Latin
America and Asia with prostitution.

The scope of the global trafficking industry is outlined in a report
prepared for the Central Intelligence Agency that estimates up to two
million women and children a year are involved, most from Southeast Asia,
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The report, released last week, identifies Canada as a transit hub for
organized crime groups that smuggle foreign sex workers into the United

Korean women are being brought to Canada, where they do not need a visa,
and then smuggled by land into the U.S., the report said.

"Other traffickers have flown into Toronto and Vancouver and transported
the women overland to the U.S. Toronto is a popular transit point with the
Russians, as there are well over 150,000 Russians living there."

Once inside the United States, the women travel an "internal circuit" of
brothels in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Reno, Seattle, Las Vegas
and San Francisco. The circuit ensures "fresh faces" for clients, but also
keeps the women disoriented, "so they will not figure out how to contact
law enforcement," the report said.

In Canada, thousands of foreign women also work as sex trade workers,
recruited by organized criminal groups; police are now investigating links
between Hungarian, Russian and Romanian organizations and their
counterparts in Buffalo, Detroit and other American cities, Det. O'Mara said.

"The women come from Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia, in that
order," he said. "Some are told they'll be modelling or in a chorus line,
and end up as prostitutes. Many distrust police and are reluctant to talk."

Women from Thailand, the People's Republic of China and Vietnam are often
willing sex trade workers who come to Canada as visitors or refugee
claimants and end up working in slave-like conditions. Some live in bunk
beds in hotels attached to the clubs, are controlled and threatened by
strip club managers and are fined for such infractions as drinking,
according to police.

Eastern European, Russian and Latin American women may also come to Canada
as visitors, "burlesque entertainers" or "buskers" with work visas to dance
in particular establishments. Last year, Canada accepted 1,027 people to
work as "buskers." The Immigration Act allows foreign strippers to enter
Canada as long as they have a job offer, although immigration officials
recently acknowledged that this exemption has led to exploitation of women.

"Human Resources Development Canada polled bar owners and came to the
conclusion that Canada is in desperate need of strippers, an occupation
that cannot be filled by Canadians," Det. O'Mara said. "That's like polling
drug dealers to see if we need more addicts."

Agents in such countries as Hungary and Venezuela recruit women through
newspaper advertisements, offering modelling or dancing jobs to people
without experience. Some women are told on the way to the airport that they
are expected to take off their clothes in strip bars. Once in Canada, they
discover that performing sexual acts is also considered part of the job. By
then, they are indebted to the agents for $10,000 to $15,000.

"Some Hungarian women were promised jobs in Las Vegas-style shows with no
touching and then shown the reality, which was lap dancing," Det. O'Mara said.

Project Almonzo includes the Toronto police morality squad, Canada
Immigration officials, the Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario's Alcohol
and Gaming Commission.

Toronto police have shut down at least two strip bars, including Features
on the Queensway and Bunny's in Markham, and have laid about 600
pimping-related charges and 50 charges under the Immigration Act against
more than 200 men, including owner-operators, managers, agents, security
guards and patrons. About 100 women also face charges as inmates of a
common bawdy house, although Det. O'Mara stressed the goal of the project
is not to do a "hooker sweep," but to "attack" organizations involved in
the trafficking of women for sexual purposes.

Sergeant Jim Fisher, Asian organized crime expert at the Criminal
Intelligence Service of Canada, says there is also evidence that the
traffic in foreign sex workers runs both ways across the U.S. border. The
CIA report says a group of American and Canadian pimps who call themselves
the West Coast Players "are actively involved in trafficking Canadian
teenagers to Los Angeles for the sex industry."

The report said there are indications the group is tied to Asian organized
crime in British Columbia. A pimp and his co-defendant were convicted in
Washington, D.C., in 1998 on eight counts of illegally running minors
across the border from Canada for prostitution, the report says.

Asian triads, such as the Big Circle Boys and the Japanese Yakuza, as well
as the Russian mob and organized crime groups from Ukraine, Georgia and
Nigeria, all recruit sex trade workers and ferry them to North America.

The report said Albanian criminals are also preying on young girls
separated from their families by the war in Kosovo and in some cases are
recruiting in refugee camps created to house people displaced by Serbian
ethnic cleansing.

Sgt. Fisher said the profits from trafficking in sex workers are immense.
Accounting books from one Canadian brothel housed in a massage parlour
showed that it took only seven months for four investors to recoup their
$50,000 initial investment.

Police have broken up several sex trade rings that were trafficking in
foreign women, as well as those that were selling Canadian women abroad. In
one case, a Russian gang brought 11 women into Canada from the former
Soviet Union.

They were told they would be "models," but ended up working as strippers.
The gang threatened to harm their families, confined the women and kept
their airline tickets, passports and money, forcing them to turn over their
earnings, the CIA report said.

Melanie Orhant <<>>
Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
Stop-Traffic archive:

To subscribe, please send an email to
Leave the subject blank. In the body of your message, write:
subscribe STOP-TRAFFIC <Your Name>
Inserting your real name (without brackets <>) after STOP-TRAFFIC.
To unsubscribe, send email to
Leave the subject blank. In the body of your message write:
unsubscribe STOP-TRAFFIC
To send a message to STOP-TRAFFIC, email:
To receive stop-traffic in digest form, please send an email to
Leave the subject blank. In the body of your message, write:
set STOP-TRAFFIC mail digest
ListProcessor receives your request, changes the mail status to
digest and returns a message to you about the change.

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view Other groups

This archive was generated by hypermail 2a22 : Thu May 25 2000 - 13:32:49 EDT