Longueuil police asking potential victims of sex trafficking ring to step forward
Longueuil police at the scene of a shooting death on Dandurand St. (Oct. 25, 2013)
Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 1:16PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2019 1:19PM EDT
Longueuil police have arrested seven suspects as part of ‘Project Colonie,’ an operation aiming to dismantle a prominent sex trafficking ring where women were reportedly sold among pimps for several thousand dollars each.
The operation began back in October 2018, when SPAL officers were alerted by to questionable activity at a Longueuil apartment complex by a concerned neighbour.
In following weeks, police say they received several other calls with the same complaint.
After a six-month inquiry, approximately 50 officers executed a series of search warrants at 10 residences – one reportedly located in front of a high school.
“Last Wednesday we really started the operation, and we were actually targeting eight suspects,” explained Ghislain Vallieres, Longueuil police spokesperson. “We had two waves of operation – it started with the first wave, visiting two addresses and arresting four people, and in the second wave, we arrested three men.”
Vallieres says there is still one suspect still on the run, yet to be apprehended.
The network was determined to be independent from organized crime or the drug trade, but all suspects are known to police, he added.
One man had previously been charged with sexual exploitation.
During the intervention, police responders reportedly found three victims held captive in a residence – one adult, and two 16-year-olds who were subsequently referred to youth protection services, Vallieres said.
“First of all, and this is the new way to work for our investigators in those types of criminal activities, we have to take care of the victims,” he explained. “That’s why now we’re working with psychologists, and we’re working with special persons who have the ability and expertise to help.”
Police have released photos of four alleged pimps, and are now seeking more witnesses or potential victims of the men in question.
They appeared Thursday at the Longueuil courthouse, along with another woman, 25, believed to be involved with the trafficking ring.
Longueuil police are looking for potential victims of (L to R) Edrice Pierre, Karim Haddouche, Jerry H.C. Pierre, and Hicarfentz Mervilus. The four were arrested this week as part of 'Projet Colonie.' (Photo courtesy: SPAL)
Police also seized cocaine and methamphetamines while searching the residences.
Anyone with information regarding the suspects is urged to contact Longueuil police at 450-646-8500, or dial 911.