HUMAN TRAFFICKING

NOT WHAT YOU WOULD THINK.

In Alberta, human trafficking is real – and it doesn’t involve shipping containers like in the movies. People are trafficked for sex most often by someone they know. Over the past years, ALERT has seen the age range of trafficked individuals decrease.

Since the conception of ALERT’s human trafficking unit in 2020, counter-trafficking teams have lended their expertise to partner agencies in over 500 agency assists across the province. ALERT works swiftly to combat this violent type of crime and keep Alberta communities safe.

Over 500 Assists

Expertise lended to parter agencies to help combat human trafficking.

157 Charges

Laid against persons involved in human trafficking, in the past year alone.

102 Arrests

Dangerous offenders arrested by ALERT teams since creation of the human trafficking unit.

40 Interventions

Victims rescued, referred or provided with trauma care/other support by ALERT and partners.

In an assessment of police-reported human trafficking incidents across Canada between 2010-2020, 91% of victims knew their trafficker(s) – intimate partners, casual friends/acquaintances, criminal or business relations, and other.[1]

91%

Human Trafficking: Get To

KNOW

FACT

Women and minors aren't always victims. In fact, they can be traffickers themselves. Police-reported crime statistics further indicate that 1 in 4 human trafficking victims are male. Men can be trafficked for both sex and labour exploitation.[2]

MYTH

The full extent of criminal human trafficking activity in Canada is well known.

FALSE! In fact, the scope of human trafficking is likely underreported/underestimated. It's difficult to detect and measure, and victims are often fearful of their trafficker(s) and don't trust the authorities.[2][3]

Human Trafficking: Get To

KNOW

FACT

Human trafficking is, globally, the second most profitable criminal market, after drug trafficking. Victims are found exploited in commercial sex trade, adult entertainment, gangs, agriculture, construction, retail, restaurants, hotels, nail salons, private homes as caregivers/nannies, and more.[2]

Smuggling or Trafficking?

Often, human smuggling and human trafficking are misinterpreted as the same crime or confused one between the other. However, they are different crimes with different characteristics. Smuggling involves crossing borders; trafficking can occur without crossing any borders (for example, right within Alberta). Someone who is smuggled usually requests and consents to this happening, whereas victims of human trafficking have not consented or their consent is meaningless given the context. Overall, the key difference is that trafficking involves the physical and emotional exploitation of a person for profit.[4]

SEX
Trafficking

Anyone can be victimized by sex trafficking. The process involves exploiting a person’s vulnerabilities in order for the trafficker(s) to gain and maintain psychological control over the victim. While it heavily involves emotional control, physical violence is almost always part of the sex trafficking market too.[1]

Engaging in a new relationship with someone older and/or richer. This can take place online or in-person. Does this relationship seem to involve manipulation and control?

Are you or someone you know receiving gifts, cash or other commodities from a partner for no apparent reason?

Are you or someone you know involved in a relationship which seems to have taken a sudden or unusual negative turn? This could come across as an increase in violence, heightened control, or more manipulation along with other signs.

Does a relationship seem oddly controlling and/or involve intimidation? Control and intimidation in need not be physical. Traffickers often control and manipulate victims psychologically and emotionally. 

Is the relationship partner engaging in behaviour that affects you without your consent, such as redistributing intimate images?

Are you living or working in horrible conditions? This may be another sign that you’re victimized by human trafficking crime.

YOUTH. INTERNET.

Recently, ALERT has seen an alarming trend: decreasing age of persons being trafficked (more minor children cases) and an increase in criminals leveraging online interaction with minors as a funnel for human trafficking. Below are some behavioural queues to watch for.

Learn more about Internet Child Exploitation

Cash

Does your child, teen or a minor under your care seem to have an unexplained accumulation of cash? This is a common puzzle piece indicating they may be involved in human trafficking.

Appearance

Does your child, teen or a minor under your care seem to have a sudden change in appearance or in the way they dress? This is a common puzzle piece indicating they may be involved in human trafficking.

Drugs

Does your child, teen or a minor under your care seem to be experimenting with drugs? This is a common puzzle piece indicating they may be involved in human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are often high during sexual exploitation.

Time

Does your child, teen or a minor under your care seem to have significant unaccounted time away? This is a common puzzle piece indicating they may be involved in human trafficking.

Female Recruiters

While human trafficking cases often involve male offenders and female victims, criminal organizations may use female recruiters. Slightly older than the victim, these recruiters will build connection with young women and teens.

Online Emotional Vulnerability

Opening up online and sharing emotional status across social media and other platforms can increase vulnerability to exploitation. Criminals can take advantage of displayed emotional vulnerability to emotionally manipulate one into human trafficking.

Recent Interventions

June 2022

Canada-wide warrant

ALERT has partnered with the RCMP in issuing a Canada-wide warrant for a human trafficking suspect. The suspect is allegedly involved in sex trafficking a 12-year old girl.

Learn More
March 2022

Sixteen-year-old victim

An Edmonton couple has been charged with numerous offences after a 16-year-old disclosed sex trafficking victimization to a school counsellor, including recruitment and forced sex work.

Learn More
October 2021

New supports available

Safety Network Coordinators have been added to ALERT's Human Trafficking Units to assist survivors with additional resources to help with trauma experiences linked to human trafficking victimization.

Learn More

Additional Resources

#notinmycity is an organization bringing about awareness and taking collective action to prevent and end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They build alliances to support, facilitate and advocate for the development and mobilization of a strategic, integrated plan to bring about transformational and sustainable change at all levels. 

Learn More

ACT Alberta works in collaboration with local, provincial and national partners to identify, respond to, and prevent human trafficking. They coordinate and provide services to individuals experiencing human trafficking, provide training and education, conduct research and data analysis and build capacity for community response.

Learn More

CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) builds bridges over income instability and creates pathways out of exploitation. They provide tools for persons who have experienced sexual exploitation or sex-trafficking to heal and renew their lives.

Learn More

[1] – Public Safety Canada: Human Trafficking

[2] – ACT Alberta

[3] – Statistics Canada: Trafficking in persons in Canada, 2020

[4] – https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/hmn-trffckng/abt-hmn-trffckng-en.aspx#a2