Saskatoon woman pleads guilty for role in human trafficking operation

·2 min read
The judge described Dilshad Ali Zada as 'a player in this unfortunate situation.' (CBC - image credit)
The judge described Dilshad Ali Zada as 'a player in this unfortunate situation.' (CBC - image credit)

A 25-year-old Saskatoon woman who pleaded guilty to her role in a human trafficking operation will serve an 18-month sentence in the community.

Dilshad Ali Zada admitted to uttering threats, withholding identification documents and theft in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday.

Justice Mona Dovell accepted a joint sentencing submission from prosecutor Kathy Grier and defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle.

"She was a player in this unfortunate situation. She was not the major player ... but was a conduit," Justice Dovell said.

Kathy Grier
Kathy Grier(CBC)

The case dates back to late 2018.

That's when the first of three women, one from Moose Jaw and two from Shawinigan, Que., went to police with allegations.

The woman, then 18, said that she'd met Ali Zada, known as "Nina," on the social media platform Snapchat. They became friends, with Nina paying for a makeover and then slowly involving her in the escort business. Grier said all of the women were in a vulnerable state.

"It's sort of like starting with the honeymoon where everybody's treated well and gifts are given. And then as time goes on, you realize you're trapped, you have no control, you have no money, you have no receipt, no say over what you do, who you see," she said.

"And then by keeping documents, that exerts a great deal of control. You can't do anything without your identification documents. You can't go to a hospital."

Brian Pfefferle
Brian Pfefferle(CBC)

The woman said the endeavour began with a 50/50 split on profits, but that soon changed as "expenses" were factored in. She said she was soon turning over all her income to Ali Zada.

Grier said the Crown agreed to a joint sentence in the community because organizing a trial during COVID-19 was challenging, and to spare the victims from testifying.

Pfefferle said that Ali Zada is taking responsibility for her role in the sex industry. He said "human trafficking" is a broad term and may not actually mean what most in the public think it means.

"There are a lot of different variations of human trafficking offences that come before the court, and a lot of people assume that they're all of one type," he said.

"There's a lot of different variations in, I think, the public's understanding. They're often viewing, you know, victims coming over in [containers] being smuggled across borders, you know, being starved, threatened, those sorts of things."

Pfefferle said that Ali Zada largely recruited people who were interested in becoming escorts.

Ali Zada had no criminal record and is originally from Afganistan. She came to Quebec as a young child.

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