Human trafficker allegedly recruited victim over social media

Calgary… A Calgary man has been charged with human trafficking related offences and ALERT’s Human Trafficking unit is concerned that he may have been attempting to recruit additional women.

ALERT alleges the suspect sexually exploited and trafficked a 19-year-old victim for a period of at least one year, dating back to August 2021. The alleged trafficking offences took place in both Alberta and Ontario and included grooming the victim, directing her movements, and advertising her sexual services.

In addition, the victim was assaulted multiple times, including an instance in which she was trying to leave the sex trade.

ALERT’s investigation, which dates back to July 2022, revealed that the victim was recruited and groomed via social media. ALERT believes the accused had been aggressively attempting to recruit other women.

“Our primary concern is ensuring no other women were victimized, and providing supports to those that may have been. This suspect was very violent in order to facilitate his own financial gain,” said Staff Sgt. Colleen Bowers, ALERT.

The victim is receiving necessary support and resources. ALERT has a Safety Network Coordinator embedded within their unit to provide enhanced supports to survivors.

Justin Palmer was arrested in northeast Calgary on June 26, 2023 and the 35-year-old man has been charged with:

  • Trafficking in a persons;
  • Materials benefit from trafficking;
  • Withholding documents;
  • Advertising sexual services;
  • Assault causing bodily harm;


Palmer was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions, including not to have any contact with the victim or to access the internet. He is due back in court on July 11, 2023.

A number of partner agencies helped with the investigation, including the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, Lethbridge Police Service, and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

ALERT encourages anyone who believes they are a victim of sexual assault or abuse to report it to police. Victims of sexual assault can report it to the Calgary Police Service by calling 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 if they are in immediate danger. There is no time limit on how long a victim has to report a sexual assault in Canada.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.