10 Albertans charged following investigation into alleged trafficking of 15-year-old girl
A police investigation into the alleged sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old girl in Alberta has resulted in eight arrests and the issuing of warrants for two additional suspects
The accused, who all reside in either Lethbridge or Calgary, allegedly arranged to transport the girl to various locations where she was sexually assaulted.
The human trafficking investigation involved members of the Lethbridge Police Service, Calgary Police Service, RCMP and the ALERT human trafficking counter exploitation unit.
According to Lethbridge police, the 10 people accused of trafficking are also believed to have sexually assaulted a second victim — a 13-year-old girl — and there may still be additional victims that have yet to be identified.
The accused range in age from 16 to 37 and a physician and a business owner are among those facing charges. Eight of the suspects are currently in custody awaiting their bail hearing while warrants have been issued for the two suspects — 26-year-old Merion Krasniqi and 22-year-old Khaled Alsaid — who remain at large.
The eight people who are currently in custody are:
- Dr. Ziyaad Noor, 37
- Mohammad Neirabani, 22
- Mohammad Zafari, 20
- Mahmoud Nirabani, 20
- Fadi (Stawi) Chtewi, 20
- Abdulla Mohammed, 19
- A 17-year-old male who cannot be named
- A 16-year-old male who cannot be named
A total of 60 charges, including sexual assault, child luring, trafficking persons under 18 and sexual assault causing bodily harm, have been laid against the eight people in custody and additional charges are pending.
Police confirm former Lethbridge-based Dr. Ziyaad Noor is the physician facing charges. Dr. Noor previously worked at Campbell Clinic North in Lethbridge but clinic officials confirm he left in April 2020 to pursue an opportunity in Calgary.
"The Campbell Clinic is disappointed to hear the news of the charges against Dr. Ziyaad Noor," said Tim Neufeld, clinic manager, in a statement to CTV News. "Dr Noor previously practiced with the Campbell Clinic however he resigned in April of 2020 and moved his practice to Calgary. Our thoughts are with the victims in this case and will provide any assistance we can. To date we have not been contacted by Police but will cooperate fully if or when that happens."
CTV News has confirmed Dr. Noor worked at the Royal VIsta Revolution Medical Clinic in Calgary from April 2020 to October 2020. It is not known if he continued to practice after leaving the clinic in northwest Calgary.
TEENAGER REACHED OUT
The swift human trafficking investigation began late last week after a teenager reached out to the Lethbridge Police Service with disturbing allegations.
"During the course of the investigation, police first learned that a 15-year-old female had been selected, groomed and brought to specific locations where the offences took place," said Inspector Pete Christos.
"It is believed that these individuals involved in these crimes are all from Lethbridge and Calgary."
For Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman, the news of human trafficking activity in the city came as a shock.
"It's a horror story. It's something that no parent wants to hear about that is happening in our city," he said.
"I'm very disappointed that there are people in our community, professional people engaged in this type of activity."
The investigation is ongoing to determine how widespread the crimes may have stretched and how many more people may be involved.
All of the known victims are now safe and receiving social support.
"Human trafficking is happening in this city and other communities," said Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh.
"These charges would not be possible without the assistance of the victims who had the courage to come forward and provide us with the vital information required to charge these individuals."
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of human trafficking or suspects someone else has been victimized is encouraged to contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Krasniqi and Alsaid, or additional details that could potentially assist the investigation, is asked to contact local police. Anonymous tips may be submitted to Crime Stoppers.
The original version of this story indicated Dr. Ziyaad Noor is Lethbridge-based. The clinic where he worked in Lethbridge confirms he left in April 2020 to pursue an opportunity in Calgary.