Members of the Calgary Police Service are working with Quebec police in connection with a human trafficking investigation and say three Calgarians have already been arrested as a result.
The CPS says they were contacted by Quebec law enforcement in May 2018 about an investigation into individuals dealing the sex trade that was believed to involve residents of Alberta.
Officials say they are now releasing details of the case because all five suspects have been arrested and charged.
Two of the suspects were arrested in Calgary after a search warrant was executed on July 27, 2018.
In that search, police found an alleged victim of human trafficking, drugs, a handgun and $5,000 in cash.
CPS then worked with Quebec authorities to arrest Vincent-Oliver Marcheterre, 34, and Antoni Proietti, 29, both of Quebec.
Both men are currently in custody for offences related to human trafficking and the sex trade against five victims discovered between June and November 2018.
Three more suspects believed to be connected to the investigation have since been arrested in Calgary.
Hicham Moustaine, 28, of Calgary, was arrested on Aug. 7, 2018 and he is charged with:
- One count of trafficking persons
- One count of procuring
- One count of possession of a firearm without a license
- One count of possession of a prohibited weapon with ammunition
- One count of possession of a firearm obtained by crime
Sergei Dube-Cavalli, 28, of Calgary, arrested on Nov. 29, 2019, has been charged with:
- One count of material benefit from sexual service
- One count of advertising sexual services
- One count of trafficking persons under the age of 18
- One count of material benefit of trafficking
Mikhail Kloubakov, 29, of Calgary, arrested on July 27, 2018, has been charged with one count of trafficking persons.
Even though all five suspects believed to be behind the human trafficking ring have been arrested, Calgary police believe the group may have made contact with additional victims in Alberta.
Officials say these interactions may not have been reported to them and they would like anyone who had contact with any of the above suspects to contact them.
Staff Sgt. Jodi Gach of the CPS General Investigations Unit says multiple victims have come forward, but they want to make sure they speak with everyone who may have had interactions with the suspects. She says victims could be anywhere.
"Often in human trafficking, there are no borders. Offenders that are related to human trafficking typically try and move their victims out of an area that's comfortable for them, where there is other family members there. They take them out of an area of comfort to an area where they can be manipulated into these situations."
Gach says the victims that have come forward so far are from all "walks of life" and crimes like this often go unreported because the victims themselves don't even know a crime is being committed..
"Victims are recruited and then are sexually exploited. They may not even know that that's the case at the time," she says. "They are taken away from all their support systems and resources they know and they learn to live a new life. Once they're in that life, it becomes very, very difficult for them to get out of it."
She says there are a number of warning signs that people can look for in case they're worried that a member of their family or someone they know has fallen victim to a human trafficker.
"With a good family support system, and somebody starts doing something, even at a very young age that are quite different than what you normally see as a pattern of behaviour -- missing school, abusing alcohol or drugs or getting an amount of money that is unusual for them to be getting -- there's red flags around that."
Police stress there is no time limit for anyone to report a sexual crime in Canada.
"You can come forward at any time and know that the Calgary Police Services aligns itself with agencies like RESET that provides the opportunity for victims of human trafficking to have a 'reset' of their life and long-term programming to set them up for success," Gach says.
Anyone with information can call Calgary police at 403-266-1234 or submit tips anonymously through Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:
APP: "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store