A 32-year-old man from Ontario is facing a number of charges in connection to a human trafficking investigation that was launched by Calgary police in June.

The Calgary Police Service Counter Exploitation Unit initiated the investigation three months ago to identify people who may be involved in the sex trade against their will.

They located a 30-year-old woman who told them that she was in an exploitive relationship and was being forced into working in the sex trade.

She said she entered into a relationship with a man she met in Toronto in 2013 that became abusive and she became dependent on him for financial support, housing and medical assistance.

Police say she said her boyfriend allegedly arranged for her to move to Edmonton where she was expected to be a sex trade worker and to send any money she made back to him.

The victim was allegedly moved across the country over the next two years to work in the sex trade and the man allegedly advertised her services online and connected her with customers.

He reportedly moved the money electronically into his own bank account and then left the woman with little to no resources to support herself.

Police believe the victim was isolated from friends and family and that she was hospitalized several times because she was denied routine medical treatment.

A cross-Canada investigation began to find the suspect, who was located and arrested on Thursday, September 20, in London, Ontario.

Shawn Powell Harris, 32, of Toronto, is charged with:

  • Trafficking in person
  • Material benefit from a trafficked person
  • Material benefit in the context of a commercial enterprise
  • Utter threats
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Proceeds of crime
  • Money laundering
  • Procuring
  • Advertising sexual services

The victim was provided with immediate assistance through the Prostitution Exit Initiative and police say she was able to leave the sex trade.

Harris was returned to Calgary to face charges and will next appear in court on Friday.