Credits: QMI AGENCY
CALGARY — Human trafficking-related charges have been laid against two Calgary men police allege tried to force teenage girls into prostitution.
Late last year, a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old girl met two men who attempted to coerce them into becoming prostitutes, said Staff Sgt. Robert Rutledge.
Police allege the men kept the girls in hotels in the north end of Calgary for a couple days at a time.
One of them was forced to provide sexual services to sex trade customers, but after she managed to flee to safety, the teen notified police, said Rutledge.
“She was put into a particularly bad situation with the sex trade customers and used her street smarts to escape,” he said.
On Friday, cops arrested two men and charged them with human trafficking and prostitution charges.
“Human trafficking is referred to as modern day slavery, and as a blanket term that encompasses many forms of exploitation but mainly sexual exploitation and forced labour,” he said.
“It’s extremely serious -- we have predatory behaviour on the part of two accused targeting two young teenagers and putting them into a situation where one’s having numerous sexual encounters with strange men.”
The offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Rutledge said the girls simply fell in with the wrong crowd.
“This is a typical example of how grooming into prostitution works,” he said.
“These guys come on as knights in shining armour -- they wine and dine these gals, they provide them clothes, they take them to fancy restaurants, they buy them jewelry, lingerie, perfume.
“And at some point they say, ‘You owe me, you owe me for all the things I’ve purchased for you, now you’re going to pay it back,’ and ‘You don’t have a job? How about you work as a stripper, how about you work as a prostitute?’”
Arjanit Nick (Sammy) Simnica, 29, and Avni (Antonio) Gashi, 22, both of Calgary, are charged with two counts of procuring a person to become a prostitute, living off the avails of a prostitute under the age of 18, and other offences.
Simnica is known to police for unrelated matters.
In 2004, he was sentenced to jail for seven years for robbing and threatening to kill an elderly woman.
Both accused are in custody and scheduled to appear in court Friday.