London-area police help 18 women and girls leave sex trade after human trafficking operation

London area police arrested 78 suspects and captured four weapons and thousands in Canadian currency while helping 18 women and girls leave the sex trade though an operation dubbed Project Equinox.

The women and girls who police helped leave the sex trade ranged in age from 15-55, according to London police and are being provided with support.

The police service launched Project Equinox at the beginning of October and concentrated on three aspects:

- John stings that identified individuals answering escort ads

- Human trafficking investigations that identified and charged suspects

- Finding human trafficking victims and relocating them if they did not want to be involved in the sex trade

London police partnered with officers from the new Human Trafficking Unit and in partnership with police from Strathroy-Cardoc, Stratford and Woodstock and worked with community organizations to discover where trafficking was happening, according to a news release.

The six-month project resulted in 78 arrests, charges for 35 johns and 129 criminal charges being laid, including four for human trafficking.

A total of 24 drug charges were also laid and $8,070 worth of controlled substances were seized along with $12,740 in Canadian currency.

Two knives, one expandable baton and a rifle were also captured.