It takes a nation to protect the nation
EDMONTON - Three men are facing human trafficking and pimping charges after teen girls were lured into Edmonton's prostitution underground in two separate cases.
Police say one man lured an underage girl to Edmonton from Saskatoon for the purpose of prostitution in July 2012.
When the girl arrived in the city, police say she was plied with alcohol and drugs including cocaine. But soon afterward, she allegedly learned the less scrupulous nature of her benefactors.
"Through online conversations with a third party, she came to Edmonton and basically was caught in a very difficult situation," said police spokesman Scott Pattison, adding she was "sexually assaulted, beaten . . . and basically threatened and put into the sex trade industry."
She eventually escaped a motel room where she was held against her will by asking her captors if she could go out to get a soft-drink.
They took her shoes but the girl, while intoxicated, went shoeless into the wintry conditions and was found by a passing motorist lying underneath a street lamp.
Ali Saghafi, 25, of no fixed address but also goes by the street name A.K., was arrested on Dec. 20, and is facing a number of charges including assault, sexual assault, unlawful confinement, trafficking of a person under the age of 18 years, procuring prostitution and living off the avails of juvenile prostitution.
In a second case, an 18-year-old woman was lured by another girl -- a 16-year-old -- to a motel where she was held captive and forced into prostitution by two men.
Police were alerted to the situation and began an investigation last week that led to the arrest of Hamid Fazli Ghejlou, 31, and Shahin Ranjbar, 23, on Thursday.
Ghejlou is facing numerous charges including trafficking in persons, procuring prostitution, living on the avails of prostitution of an adult and possession of stolen property under $5,000.
Ranjbar is charged with trafficking with person, procuring prostitution, living on the avails of prostitution of an adult, possession of stolen property under $5,000 and assault.
Pattison said the underage girl is believed to be back home in Saskatoon but he could not comment on the condition of the 18-year-old from Edmonton.
Andrea Burkhart, an official with Alberta's Action Coalition on Human Trafficking, says the recent cases are "the tip of the iceberg" in Edmonton.
"Many victims never come forward to law enforcement, because of fear or because they don't know what their rights are," said Burkhart.
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