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Cablegate: Trafficking Violations: Sex and Smuggling in Quebec

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTREAL 000266

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KFRD KWMN ELAB SMIG PREF PHUM
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKING VIOLATIONS: SEX AND SMUGGLING IN QUEBEC

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: MONTREAL, SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS "THE
PARIS OF THE WEST," HAS ALSO DEVELOPED A REPUTATION IN THE
SEX-TOURISM INDUSTRY AS "THE BANGKOK OF THE WEST." NOT
SURPRISINGLY, MOST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN QUEBEC PROVINCE
INVOLVES WOMEN WHO ARE TRAFFICKED INTO THE SEX TRADE. IN
FEBRUARY 2003, MONTREAL POLICE BROKE UP A JUVENILE
PROSTITUTION RING IN WHICH MINOR GIRLS WERE BEING FORCED TO
ENGAGE IN NUDE DANCING AND PROSTITUTION. MONTREAL POLICE
CONTACTS REPORT THAT AFTER THEY STARTED TO CRACK DOWN ON
PROSTITUTION AND SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF MINORS, MANY RINGS
MOVED BUSINESS OUT OF MONTREAL TO QUEBEC CITY AND NIAGARA
FALLS. IN ADDITION TO TRAFFICKING FOR THE SEX TRADE, U.S.
AND CANADIAN IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS HAVE SEEN INCREASED
SMUGGLING IN PERSONS--SOME OF WHICH CAN BE CONSIDERED
TRAFFICKING--FROM COSTA RICA, MEXICO, CHINA, AND RUSSIA.
LOCAL, PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE
ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN COMBATING ALL FORMS OF TRAFFICKING IN
THE PROVINCE. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) THE QUEBEC-BASED SEX TRADE. "LET YOUR FINGERS DO
THE WALKING," BELL'S YELLOW PAGES MOTTO HAS A DOUBLE
ENTENDRE WHEN IT COMES TO THE 20 PAGES OF ADVERTISING FOR
ESCORT AGENCIES IN THE 2003 PHONE BOOK. THESE ADS, UP FROM
17 PAGES IN 2002 AND 2 IN 1998, HIGHLIGHT WHAT A BIG
BUSINESS THE SEX TRADE HAS BECOME IN QUEBEC. WHILE THE
CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA PROHIBITS SOLICITING FOR THE
PURPOSES OF PROSTITUTION, KEEPING A "BAWDY HOUSE" AND
"PROCURING AND LIVING OFF THE INCOME OF PROSTITUTION,"
ESCORT AGENCIES ARE ABLE TO MANEUVER AROUND REGULATIONS.
ASIDE FROM ESCORT AGENCIES, QUEBEC IS KNOWN FOR NUMEROUS
STRIP CLUBS WHERE, UNLIKE IN THE UNITED STATES, CLIENTS CAN
TOUCH THE DANCERS. MANY TRACE THE GROWING SEX INDUSTRY IN
QUEBEC TO A 1999 CANADIAN SUPREME COURT DECISION THAT
LEGALIZED "CONTACT DANCING," WHEREBY CUSTOMERS IN STRIP
CLUBS ARE ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE BREASTS, BUTTOCKS, AND THIGHS
OF THE DANCERS. ACCORDING TO A 2002 ARTICLE IN THE GAZETTE,
THESE LAP DANCES, OR PRIVATE CUBICLE ENCOUNTERS, SELL FOR
AROUND $10 A PIECE AND BRING IN ABOUT 50% MORE REVENUES FOR
CLUBS THAN THEY EARNED BEFORE THE 1999 LEGISLATION.

3. (SBU) A PROFILE OF THE VICTIMS. WHILE MANY OF THE WOMEN
WHO WORK FOR STRIP CLUBS AND ESCORT AGENCIES DO SO
WILLINGLY, INVESTIGATIONS AND ARRESTS OVER THE PAST YEAR
HAVE UNCOVERED HUNDREDS WHO ARE COERCED INTO THE BUSINESS.
WHEN ASKED FOR A PROFILE OF THE GIRLS HE ENCOUNTERS, A
MONTREAL POLICE INVESTIGATOR THAT POST INTERVIEWED DESCRIBED
THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO. VULNERABLE RUNAWAY GIRLS, MANY OF
WHOM ARE MINORS, MEET MEN WHO OFFER THEM FOOD AND SHELTER.
THEN, IT IS "PAYBACK TIME." THE MEN REQUEST THAT THE GIRLS
BECOME DANCERS IN STRIP CLUBS. IF THE GIRLS PROTEST, THEY
ARE TOLD THAT THEY OWE THE MEN THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR THE
INVESTMENT THEY HAVE MADE BY TAKING CARE OF THEM. THE
CARETAKERS THEN ACQUIRE FALSE IDENTITY CARDS FOR THE GIRLS
TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE OVER 18 AND SET THEM UP IN BARS AND
CLUBS THROUGHOUT QUEBEC AND IN NIAGARA FALLS. ONE GIRL
REPORTED THAT SHE EARNED $300-$400 A DAY, BUT WAS ONLY GIVEN
$25-$50 OF HER EARNINGS. THIS SCENARIO MATCHES THAT OF THE
JUVENILE PROSTITUTION RING BROKEN UP BY MONTREAL POLICE IN
FEBRUARY 2003. THE GAZETTE REPORTED THAT THE TWO
RINGLEADERS WOULD BEGIN BY DATING THE GIRLS AND BECOMING
THEIR LOVERS, AND THEN FORCE THEM TO STRIP IN BARS IN
MONTREAL AND TORONTO. WHEN DANCING DID NOT GENERATE ENOUGH
REVENUES, THE GIRLS WERE PUSHED INTO PROSTITUTION.

4. (SBU) POST'S POLICE CONTACT REPORTED THAT MOST OF THE
GIRLS HE ENCOUNTERS ARE CANADIAN. HOWEVER, ACCORDING TO
OTHER POST CONTACTS, THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW CASES OVER THE
PAST YEAR IN WHICH FOREIGN WOMEN AND GIRLS WERE TRAFFICKED
TO QUEBEC FOR THE SEX TRADE. IN ONE CASE, TWO RUSSIAN WOMEN
WERE BROUGHT TO CANADA FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF NUDE
DANCING AND PROSTITUTION. IN ANOTHER CASE, AN INDIAN WOMAN
TRAFFICKED TWO MINORS INTO CANADA FOR PROSTITUTION.
ACCORDING TO A CANADIAN IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, THE WOMAN WAS
APPREHENDED AND SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON BEFORE
BEING DEPORTED TO INDIA.

5. (SBU) WHO ARE THE RINGLEADERS? MOTORCYCLE GANGS ARE THE
KINGPINS BEHIND PROSTITUTION, STRIP CLUBS, AND ESCORT
AGENCIES IN QUEBEC. ACCORDING TO THE CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE
SERVICE CANADA 2002 REPORT, THE HELLS ANGELS ARE THE LARGEST
AND MOST CRIMINALLY ACTIVE OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE GANG IN CANADA
WITH 35 FULL CHAPTERS. IN ORDER TO HAVE GIRLS PLACED IN
CLUBS AND AGENCIES, OTHER HAITIAN, ASIAN, AND RUSSIAN GANG
MEMBERS TEND TO USE THE MOTORCYCLE GANGS AS MIDDLEMEN. WITH
INCREASED POLICE ATTENTION ON THE MONTREAL SCENE (WITHIN THE
PAST SIX MONTHS, MONTREAL POLICE HAVE SET UP A TASK FORCE ON
JUVENILE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION), THESE GANGS ARE EXPANDING
INTO MARKETS IN QUEBEC CITY, OTTAWA, AND TORONTO. IN 2002-
2003, POLICE HAVE SEEN A RAMPANT INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF
GIRLS BEING SENT FROM QUEBEC TO WORK AS STRIPPERS AND
PROSTITUTES IN NIAGARA FALLS. THE HANDLERS TAKE LARGE CUTS
OF THE GIRLS' EARNINGS, MAKING IT A VERY LUCRATIVE BUSINESS.
IN QUEBEC CITY, THERE HAVE EVEN BEEN CONFIRMED CASES IN
WHICH GIRLS HAVE BEEN SOLD FROM ONE HANDLER TO ANOTHER.

6. (SBU) PROTECTION EFFORTS. ON JULY 28, 2002, CANADA
AMENDED THE CRIMINAL CODE AND THE CANADA EVIDENCE ACT TO
ENHANCE THE PROTECTION OF MINORS WHO ARE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL
EXPLOITATION. THE LEGISLATION IS ONE STEP IN SATISFYING
CANADA'S COMMITMENT TO THE JANUARY 2002 UN PROTOCOL ON THE
RIGHTS OF CHILDREN. AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL, THERE ARE
SEVERAL SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES, FUNDED BY PRIVATE AND
PUBLIC SOURCES, THAT OFFER PROTECTION TO YOUNG WOMEN
INVOLVED IN THE SEX TRADE. ONE ORGANIZATION IN MONTREAL,
"PASSAGES" IS A SHELTER FOR 18- TO 30-YEAR OLD WOMEN. MANY
OF THE WOMEN WHO COME TO THE SHELTER ARE INVOLVED IN DRUGS
AND PROSTITUTION. HOWEVER, A PASSAGES EMPLOYEE STATED THAT
SHE RARELY SEES THE YOUNG WOMEN INVOLVED IN SEX TRAFFICKING
RINGS; SHE SPECULATED THAT THE HANDLERS OF THESE WOMEN
MONITOR THEIR ACTIVITIES CLOSELY AND PREVENT THEM FROM
ACCESSING AVAILABLE SOCIAL SERVICES. IN THE OPINION OF
POST'S POLICE CONTACT, ONCE GIRLS ARE BROUGHT INTO A
TRAFFICKING RING, THEY FACE A SLIPPERY SLOPE. VULNERABLE
GIRLS, DRAWN TO OFFERS OF PROTECTION AND CARE, OFTEN THINK
THEY ARE IN LOVE WITH THEIR "PROTECTOR." COERCED INTO NUDE
DANCING, THEN PROSTITUTION, THE GIRLS QUICKLY BECOME PART OF
A SEAMY WORLD IN WHICH DRUG USE AND ADDICTION IS PREVALENT.
NEEDING INCOME TO SUPPORT THEIR DRUG HABITS, MANY GIRLS FIND
IT EVEN MORE DIFFICULT TO BREAK OUT OF THE SEX TRADE.

7. (SBU) SMUGGLING. IN 2002-2003, U.S. AND CANADIAN
IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS HAVE ALSO SEEN CASES OF SMUGGLING TO
AND THROUGH CANADA, SOME OF WHICH MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS
"TRAFFICKING." MEXICANS, COSTA RICANS, CHINESE, AND RUSSIANS
HAVE BEEN THE MAIN ORGANIZERS. IN 2002-2003, NUMEROUS
MEXICANS FILED CLAIMS FOR REFUGEE STATUS IN CANADA AFTER
HAVING BEEN SMUGGLED ONTO FLIGHTS TO MONTREAL. TO DATE, THE
ORGANIZERS BEHIND THIS RING HAVE NOT BEEN APPREHENDED. IN
ANOTHER CONTINUING CASE, VARIOUS GROUPS OF COSTA RICANS HAVE
BEEN TRAVELING TO CANADA ON FALSIFIED CANADIAN VISAS. AFTER
ARRIVING IN CANADA, THEY PROCEED TO A SECLUDED PART OF THE
U.S.-CANADA BORDER AND FLEE TO THE U.S. SIDE. THIS OPERATION
HAD BECOME SO ORGANIZED THAT SOME OF THE GROUPS WERE MET AT
THE AIRPORT BY TOUR BUSES WHICH DROVE THEM TO THE BORDER.
WHILE THE ROYAL MOUNTED CANADIAN POLICE RECENTLY ARRESTED
THE KINGPIN OF THIS OPERATION, INTELLIGENCE REPORTS WARN OF
AN ONGOING BATTLE WITH COSTA RICAN SMUGGLING. IN OTHER
INSTANCES, IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS APPREHENDED NUMEROUS
CHINESE CITIZENS TRAVELING AS IMPOSTERS ON JAPANESE
PASSPORTS. EACH PERSON REPORTEDLY PAID UP TO $30,000 FOR
HIS/HER FAKE PASSPORT. OFTEN TO GUARANTEE FULL PAYMENT, THE
ORGANIZERS WOULD HOLD THE CUSTOMERS' FAMILIES HOSTAGE IN
CHINA OR SUBJECT THEM TO FORCED LABOR. FINALLY, A CASE THAT
IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION INVOLVES A RUSSIAN DUO
SUSPECTED OF SMUGGLING ALIENS OF VARIOUS NATIONALITIES FROM
CANADA TO THE UNITED STATES BY HIDING THEM INSIDE A TRACTOR
TRAILER TRUCK. THE DUO CHARGES EACH FOREIGN NATIONAL $3,000
AND TRANSPORTS 3-10 PEOPLE TO THE UNITED STATES ON EACH
TRIP. IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS ARE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THESE
MEN.

POLICE CONTACT: AGENT SERGE MORIN (YOUTH AND STREET GANGS
PORTFOLIO)
ALLEN

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