Edmonton couple charged with human trafficking preyed on minors, investigators say

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An Edmonton couple is facing human trafficking charges for procuring women, including minors, for sex.

A 51-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman were arrested in Edmonton on Nov. 3 following an investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team's human trafficking unit.

The couple was "preying on young victims" to sell them for sex in the Edmonton area, said ALERT spokesperson Mike Tucker.

The pair advertised their victims online through social media sites, Tucker said.

"A lot of the human trafficking offences exists online," Tucker said in an interview Tuesday.

"There's a marketplace that can be accessed through social media applications or websites. That was the case in this instance, obviously translating to real personal interactions in the real world.

"It's the hidden side of human trafficking of what the public generally perceives to be as someone working on a street corner. But it exists."

Together, the couple faces at least eight charges including trafficking in a person and procuring, advertising the sexual services of another person, in a news release said Tuesday.

Investigators are encouraging victims or anyone with information on the case to contact police.

"We are committed to listening," Staff Sgt. Lance Parker said in the release. "Your information could help prevent someone else from being exploited."

The case is one of the first investigations to be resolved by ALERT's human trafficking unit, an investigative team established in September, Tucker said.

"This is an investigation that they became aware of through some police information and were able to act quickly to arrest these two individuals," Tucker said.

"The sad reality is that human trafficking exists in this community on, probably, scales much larger than this."