News/Canada: CIA: Canada major player in illicit sex industry

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Subject: News/Canada: CIA: Canada major player in illicit sex industry
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Jun 20 2000 - 09:12:32 EDT


CIA: Canada major player in illicit sex industry
Vancouver, Toronto cited as vital links in prostitute trafficking
Jim Bronskill
The Ottawa Citizen, April 14, 2000

Toronto and Vancouver are emerging as hubs for the criminal trafficking of
international sex workers, says a new report prepared for the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency.

The report, released by the CIA, calls for a "co-ordinated international
effort" to combat the growing problem that ensnares between 700,000 and two
million women and children annually.

Although the intelligence report focuses primarily on the United States, it
reveals the illicit Canadian activities of several criminal groups, based
largely on information from American diplomats and members of the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the INS.

Criminals typically recruit women abroad with false promises of jobs as
waitresses, nannies, models, factory workers or exotic dancers. However,
once in North America, they are forced into prostitution or sweatshop
labour. Often they are detained through threats and violence.

The trafficking industry is closely intertwined with related crime such as
extortion, racketeering, money laundering, bribery of public officials,
drug use and gambling, the report says.

"For example, INS raids on brothels run by traffickers in Toronto have
netted heroin and counterfeit currency."

It says the Wah Ching, an organized crime group that smuggles and exploits
Asian women, has connections to other criminal gangs in several cities,
including Toronto and Vancouver.

The recently released report was prepared by an analyst with the U.S. State
Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research under the auspices of a
program administered by the CIA's Centre for the Study of Intelligence.

Trafficking of women and children to the United States is likely to
increase due to a lack of jobs in the countries of origin, enormous profits
for criminals and the low risk of being prosecuted, the report concludes.
It recommends prevention strategies in the source countries, stronger laws
and better protection for victims.

The Canadian government recently introduced amendments to the Immigration
Act that would toughen penalties against people smugglers. The move
followed the arrival of almost 600 Chinese migrants in filthy, rusting
boats last summer on the West Coast. It is believed that many of the
newcomers were ultimately destined for New York City.

The RCMP and the federal Criminal Intelligence Service have expressed
concerns about the growth of human smuggling operations.

The U.S. report provides additional evidence of troublesome links to Asian
crime groups. "Organized smuggling rings have capitalized on Canada's visa
waiver for Koreans to bring Korean women through Canada to the U.S. where
they enter without inspection."

According to an INS official in Bangkok, traffickers have flown into
Toronto and Vancouver with women in order to transport them to the United
States. "Toronto is a popular transit point with the Russians as there are
well over 150,000 Russians living there," says the report.

American officials in Thailand indicated that at least four loosely
organized groups smuggle and traffic women for delivery to U.S. brothels.

"They send roughly 20 to 30 women a month to the U.S. and Canada, generally
using altered or imposter Thai passports," the report reveals. "Many of
these women have been told they will be seamstresses and hostesses but
arrive to find themselves forced into prostitution."

The report also says trafficking in minors for sex appears to be a growing
issue throughout the United States.

An INS investigator at the American consulate in Vancouver pointed to a
group of pimps known as the West Coast Players as active traffickers of
Canadian teenagers to Los Angeles for the sex industry.

"There are indications that the West Coast players are establishing links
with Asian organized crime groups in British Columbia," the report says.

It adds that Canadian police believe American girls are also being smuggled
from the U.S. to Canada for sexual exploitation.
Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
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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.
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