MONTREAL - The federal public safety minister has announced the creation of an RCMP unit that will work closely with law-enforcement partners in Quebec to fight human-trafficking in Canada and abroad.
Steven Blaney says significant progress has been made over the past year but that much work remains to be done on what he calls the despicable crime of modern-day slavery in Canada.
A few hours after Blaney met reporters in Montreal, the RCMP announced the arrest of four more erotic massage parlour operators. The Mounties said in a news release that they, the Montreal police and the Canada Border Services Agency conducted a second police operation last Friday in a case of sexual exploitation of young Romanian women.
An arrest warrant was also issued for another operator. One week earlier, three erotic massage parlour operators were arrested as part of the same investigation. Those arrested last Friday appeared in court a day later to face charges including keeping a common bawdy house, aiding or abetting a person to engage in or carry on prostitution, and living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre recently served notice that illegal massage parlours — havens for prostitution and human-trafficking — will be the target of a police crackdown and possible legislation that will include hefty fines. The RCMP has pointed out in the past that such parlours are a gateway for moving human-trafficking victims into prostitution. The Mounties estimate there are nearly 350 illicit massage parlours in Montreal and many more in its suburbs.
Coderre has the backing of the federal minister in his crackdown on erotic massage parlours that are masquerading as legitimate businesses. "Mayor Coderre can count on our support to track down human-traffickers," Blaney said. "So, wherever they are, whether in a massage parlour or anywhere else, where there's human-trafficking, our joint forces will intervene."