Canadian man charged in human trafficking operation that involved sex slavery

A 43-year-old Toronto man has been charged in connection with a human trafficking investigation spanning several states. The Office of the U.S. Attorney announced the arrest of Richard J. Westland of Toronto in connection with three human trafficking cases in Michigan and Ohio in which a woman was allegedly sold as a sex slave for $450 and forced to engage in sexual activity with men for the purpose of sexual exploitation and labor exploitation. Westland faces six federal charges, including conspiracy to distribute and traffic human sex slaves.

“Perpetrators of this criminal enterprise victimized vulnerable individuals and caused tremendous emotional and financial harm,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider in a press release. “Justice is on the way.”

Officials added that the investigation began in November of 2017 after a Michigan employee in the corrections system saw a person who appeared to be a sex slave being held against her will. The employee called police, who contacted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, an organization committed to eliminating human trafficking and to recognizing, identifying, and assisting victims. When Michigan and Ohio officials investigated, they discovered five others also involved in the trafficking operation.

The organizations expect Westland to appear in federal court in Cleveland on Tuesday.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.

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