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Cablegate: Toronto Police File First Human Trafficking Charges

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PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0024/01 0282001
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 282001Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2320
INFO RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0009
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0011
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0001
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0015
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TORONTO 000024

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PGOVSMIGKCRMKWMNPHUMCVISKFRDCA
SUBJECT: Toronto Police File First Human Trafficking Charges

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Protect Accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Toronto Police have filed multiple human
trafficking and prostitution-related charges against six Toronto
residents of Ukrainian and Russian descent. The charges are the
first time Toronto Police have laid charges under 2005 laws
specifically criminalizing human-trafficking related offenses. In
statements after the arrests, Toronto authorities asserted that
adequate structures are in place to protect human trafficking
victims, but admit that the underground nature of the offenses makes
apprehension and prosecution difficult. While the current charges
are based on the accusations of two women who escaped their captors
and fled to a police station, Toronto authorities suspect that as
many as 6-10 other victims may be held as part of the scheme. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------
From Romania and Russia with Fake Israeli Passports
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) The case broke on the evening of January 10, when a
Romanian woman walked into the 52 Division of the Toronto Police
Service (less than 200 yards from the Consulate General) and
informed police that she was being forcibly held and forced to
perform prostitution services. Shortly thereafter, Toronto police
located a Russian national held at a downtown Toronto residence.
Both women had been in Canada less than one year. According to
police reports, the women traveled to Canada using falsified Israeli
passports after being recruited under the pretense of performing
"modeling" services. Once in Canada, their travel documents were
confiscated, and they were forcibly confined except when being
brought to clients (NOTE: Canada does not require visas for most
visiting Israeli nationals. END NOTE).

3. (SBU) Acting on information provided by the two reported victims,
Toronto Police arrested six Toronto residents, four men and two
women between the ages of 35 and 52. All are of Russian and/or
Ukrainian descent. Three are recent immigrants to Canada and could
be deported if convicted of the prostitution and trafficking
charges. The Canadian refugee claim of one of the Russian nationals
was previously denied but he later reentered the country after his
Ukrainian wife (who has also been charged in the case) filed a
successful immigration petition. The names of the accused have been
forwarded to Toronto's Consular section for entry in relevant
lookout databases. At this point, there is no apparent U.S.
connection to the investigation.

4. (SBU) At press conferences immediately following the arrests,
Toronto Police Service officials speculated that as many as 10
further victims could be under confinement in the Toronto area and
issued a public plea for victims to come forward. However, as of
January 28, and after two court appearances by the accused, no
further victims have been located. The federal Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP) has been assisting Toronto Police with the
investigation. The victims have been referred to Citizenship and
Immigration Canada for immigration and residency benefits available
to victims of human trafficking.

--------------------------------------------- ------
First Use of Human Trafficking Statutes in Ontario
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) While prostitution-related arrests are not uncommon in
Toronto -- a town with a flourishing adult entertainment industry --
the January arrests are only the second time charges have been laid
under 2005 federal legislation specifically criminalizing
human-trafficking related offences. In December, 2007 charges of
human trafficking were dropped against a Montreal couple for lack of
evidence. The six accused in the Toronto case are charged with
"Engaging in Human Trafficking" and "Benefiting from the Proceeds of
Human Trafficking" as well as various prostitution-related offences.
According to the Toronto Police lead investigator, none of the
accused had previously come to the attention of law enforcement.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Given the failure of past human trafficking
investigations, the Toronto charges are a significant test of
Canada's new trafficking statutes. Toronto Police acknowledge the
importance of this case and have actively solicited the public for
assistance with the investigation and prosecution. In conversations
with Consulate staff, Toronto area human trafficking researchers
were skeptical that the Toronto arrests were an indicator of
improved enforcement and attention to human trafficking issues.
Rather, our contacts say, Toronto Police received an extraordinarily
lucky break when the first victim presented herself to police. As
no further victims have been located nearly two weeks after the
initial arrests, this seems to be a logical conclusion. END

TORONTO 00000024 002 OF 002


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