Edmonton/Calgary… Saturday, July 30, 2022, marks the United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. ALERT is using the occasion to shed light on the prevalence of human trafficking offences in Alberta, and to promote resources for those impacted.
“Human trafficking is an industry that operates in the shadows and I believe there’s a general naivety about its presence and impact in our communities. ALERT is committed to targeting perpetrators, but more importantly, equipping survivors and loved ones with the resources needed to escape,” said Supt. Marc Cochlin, ALERT Chief Executive Officer.
Since being formed in April 2020, ALERT Human Trafficking and Counter Exploitation units have made 105 arrests related to human trafficking offences with 274 charges laid in Alberta.
Additionally, ALERT has provided specialized assistance and resources to 117 survivors of human trafficking. Safety Network Coordinators, embedded within ALERT, work directly with survivors to by removing barriers towards exiting the sex industry, safety planning, and facilitating access to community support services.
In a recent investigation, ALERT helped rescue a 12-year-old youth who was being sex trafficked in Edmonton. The youth was provided with specialized care resources and reunited with her mother, while her perpetrator was arrested earlier this month on a Canada-wide warrant.
Safety Network Coordinators were funded courtesy of a collaborative undertaking by the Safer Way Out initiative, #NotInMyCity, and Calgary Police Service.
“We are honoured to be able to support the exceptional work of the ALERT team and look forward to a continued partnership in advancing education and leading practices to best support survivors of this heinous crime,” said #NotInMyCity founder Paul Brandt.
According to #NotInMyCity, some of the warning signs of human trafficking may include:
However, while anyone can be victimized by sex trafficking, it disproportionally affects women/girls, youth/young people, and Indigenous peoples. The process involves exploiting a person’s vulnerabilities in order for the trafficker(s) to gain and maintain psychological control over the victim.
Survivors of sex trafficking can call 211 for help. Additional resources for “Safer Way Out” are available here: https://reachedmonton.ca/initiatives/safer-way-out/
To report suspected human trafficking, contact your local police, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT units investigate human trafficking involving sexual exploitation occurring in Alberta. The integrated units work in collaboration with agencies and organizations involved in rescuing and supporting survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
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.