Barrie man charged in human-trafficking probe
(Postmedia Network file photo)
A Barrie man is among more than 100 people charged by York Regional Police with trying to buy sex from children.
Ramy Kawar, 39, was charged by police as part of Project Raphael, a four-year investigation that led to the arrest of 104 men attempting to purchase sex with children.
Also charged as a result of the human-trafficking investigation are Bradford residents Milton Sanchez-Guevara, 29, and Scott O'Leary, 38.
According to police, the project begin in 2014 as part of its strategy to combat child-sex trafficking. The strategy involved rescuing victims, identifying and charging those who traffic children and identifying and charging those who attempted to purchase sex with children.
All of the men responded to online advertisements for escorts then negotiated the purchase of sex for prostituted children, who were portrayed as being between the ages of 13 and 16.
The men ranged in age from 18 to 71 years old, with most being from across the Greater Toronto Area, but some came to York Region from other provinces.
To demonstrate the scope of the demand for prostituted children, police said that over the course of three days earlier this year, the force's human-trafficking team arrested 19 men who believed that they were purchasing sex from either a 13-year-old or 14-year-old child.
Of the 104 cases placed before the courts, 40 have been resolved with 64 still before the courts. Of the 40 resolved cases, 32 of the accused plead guilty, four went to trial and of those four, three of them were found guilty and one man was acquitted. Five cases were withdrawn.