Calgary, AB,

Human trafficking investigation leads to charges

The Calgary Police Service Counter Exploitation Unit has charged one man in relation to human trafficking.

In early June 2016, investigators with the Counter Exploitation Unit (formerly known as the Vice Unit), the CPS Calgary Airport Intelligence Team and the CPS Hotel/Motel Unit, conducted an operation to identify persons who may be involved in the sex trade against their will.

As a result of this operation, investigators encountered a 30-year-old woman who disclosed to officers that she was involved in an exploitive relationship and that she was being coerced into working as a sex trade worker.

The victim alleged she had met the accused in Toronto in 2013 where they had begun a relationship. The relationship allegedly turned abusive and she became dependent on him for financial support, medical assistance and housing. Her boyfriend allegedly arranged for her to travel to Edmonton in 2014 where she was expected to work in the sex trade and send any money she made back to him.

Over the next two years, the woman was allegedly moved across Canada to work in the sex trade. The man would allegedly advertise her services online and arrange meet ups with customers, then funnel money electronically into his own bank account leaving the victim with very little resources to support herself.

Investigators believe the victim was cut off from friends and family, and denied routine medical treatment which ultimately led to her hospitalization on a number of occasions.

After speaking with investigators, the victim was provided with immediate assistance through the Prostitution Exit Initiative that enabled her to leave the sex trade of her own free will.

A cross-Canada investigation ensued to locate the suspect. He was located and arrested on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2016, in London, Ont., with the assistance of the Toronto Police Service Fugitive Team. The suspect was returned to Calgary to face charges.

Shawn Powell HARRIS, 32, of Toronto, Ont., has been charged with:

  • Trafficking in person
  • Material benefit from a trafficked person
  • Material benefit in the context of a commercial enterprise
  • Utter threats
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Proceeds of crime
  • Money laundering
  • Procuring
  • Advertising sexual services

HARRIS will next appear in court on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.