Lethbridge police have charged 10 Albertans with human trafficking and sexually abusing teen girls as young as 13.
On Friday, police said the Lethbridge men and teens, the latter who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, sexually exploited girls aged 15 and 13 after selecting and grooming them for such abuse.
“These individuals had arranged for the transportation of the (15-year-old) victim to locations where the offences took place. The victim often did not know the details of the pre-arranged meetings,” Lethbridge police said in a press release.
“Members of our Criminal Investigation Section subsequently learned the same individuals had also engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old victim.”
They also said the total number of victims isn’t yet known.
And Lethbridge police, who worked with RCMP and Calgary police on the case, said those accused in the crimes represent a wide range of the community.
“Ten individuals have been charged, with the accused ranging from youth to a business owner to a physician,” they said.
In some instances, the girls were sexually assaulted by multiple suspects simultaneously, said police.
Arrested and charged with trafficking persons under 18 and with various sexual crimes including sexual assault are Faid (Stawi) Chtewi, 20; Abdulla Mohammed, 19; Mohammad Neirbani, 22; Mahmoud Nirabani, 20; Ziyaad Noor, 37; Mohammad Zafari, 20; and two teens aged 16 and 17 who can’t be named.
The eight were in custody with some scheduled for a court hearing Friday.
Two other men — Meriton Krasniqi, 26, and 22-year-old Khald Alsaid — are still being sought by police, who said further charges are pending.
Lethbridge police cited Statistics Canada data stating that between 2009 and 2016 there were 1,708 reported incidents of human trafficking in the country with 28 per cent of the victims under the age of 18.
Of the victims, 97 per cent were female.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call acting Sgt. Bryan Whelpley, at 403-330-5167, and tips can also be given anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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