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Dozens of men charged in human trafficking project

An investigation into human trafficking and the purchasing of sex in the London region has led to charges against 25 men.

London police released the results of Project Circuit on Friday. The six-week project that began October 16 was a joint operation involving officers from the OPP and police services in London, Woodstock, St. Thomas, and Strathroy.

“The primary focus of Project Circuit was to make personal contact with women involved in the sex trade and to offer assistance so it was really an overwhelming success,” said Detective David Ellyatt, head of the Human Trafficking Unit, in a statement issued Friday. “We made contact with 56 women and girls and were able to help two victims of human trafficking get out and get help.”

According to police, the women ranged in age from 16 to 41 and included students from high school and post-secondary institutions. Of the 56 women police made contact with, 24 were from London, 11 were from the Greater Toronto Area, seven were from Quebec, two were from Hong Kong, and eight were from smaller communities in Ontario. Police say they were offered help through victim’s services and local women’s support groups, and given backpacks with clothing, toiletries, and gift cards to assist in getting them home.

During the investigation, police say they conducted so-called “john-stings,” in which ad for sexual services was placed online for six days. During that time, it received more than 9,000 views.

“This one ad continues to receive text messages from more than 100 people looking to purchase sex,” said Detective Ellyatt. “This speaks volumes to the demand that is fueling the exploitation of women in our community.”

Police arrested 25 men during Project Circuit. The charges faced include obtaining sexual services for consideration, trafficking a person under the age of 18, and misleading police.

Anyone with information in relation to any incident involving human trafficking is asked to call the London Police Service at (519) 661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent in on-line anonymously to http://www.londoncrimestoppers.com.