Police bust major crime ring that spanned Canada, reached Waterloo Region
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2019 12:03PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 16, 2019 8:52PM EDT
KITCHENER - A national human trafficking ring has been busted and the numbers are staggering.
Police say 31 people are facing more than 300 charges and investigators believe that others are involved.
Officials confirmed Wednesday morning that the crime ring's influence reached Waterloo Region.
York Regional Police say they need to verify, but investigators believe that members of what they call the "Nyangwila Group" either trafficked women or committed fraud here in Waterloo Region.
Police say Jonathan Nyangwila is the alleged kingpin of the organization.
They allege that he ran it with three of his brothers and several other people.
Investigators say they mainly operated out of the GTA and Quebec but worked in almost every jurisdiction in Ontario, as well as provinces to the west.
A total of 34 search warrants have been carried out in the GTA and Quebec.
In the past year, 45 women, all from Quebec, were identified as working in the sex trade, but only 12 have come forward as victims.
"There was two females that were engaged in sex trade at that time," Insp. Ty Truong with York Regional Police explains.
"They were in Vaughan and they were coming to their end of their rope and they had called for assistance."
Police say this investigation, called Project Convalesce, started a year ago.
Besides human trafficking, the accused are facing fraud- and drug-related charges.
Investigators say they are looking to arrest at least 11 more individuals.
They say they believe there are several more victims out there, saying this crime ring has been around for years.
So far, the other people charged in this investigation have not been identified.