A Quebec man has been arrested for suspected human trafficking in Kelowna and Victoria.
The Kelowna RCMP say 36-year-old Stanley Jean-Baptiste was arrested in Quebec after a two-year-long human trafficking investigation began in British Columbia.
Mounties say the Kelowna RCMP Sex Crimes Unit started its investigation into suspected human trafficking in Victoria and the Kelowna area in May 2021.
An arrest warrant was issued on Dec. 8, 2023, in Montreal, where Jean-Baptiste was taken into custody. As of Tuesday, he remained in police custody and was scheduled to be transferred to Kelowna to appear before the courts.
According to police, he faces charges of Trafficking in Persons, Material Benefit — Trafficking, Advertising Sexual Services, and Procuring.
None of the allegations against Jean-Baptiste have been proven in court.
“Drugs and weapons can be sold only one time, a body can be sold over and over again,” Mia Golden, Youth and Family Counsellor.
Golden, a counsellor for MYST — a service team aimed at addressing sexually exploited youth — says many adult victims are human trafficking happen start off as relationships or when they voluntarily join the sex trade.
“They believe this person has an interest in them, they are love-bombed, they are cared for. All the things that you would want in a partner and then slowly things start to shift,” said Golden.
Kelowna RCMP say that the location of where the alleged crime happened is a hot spot for traffickers.
“We know that Kelowna is part of a circuit used by human traffickers who exploit vulnerable individuals for sexual purposes,” said Cpl. Tim Russell of the Kelowna RCMP vulnerable persons unit.
Golden says those two locations listed as hot spots is not a surprise to her.
“Kelowna and Victoria are definite hot spots. They are also both areas where there’s significant gang presence,” said Golden.
Jean-Bapiste remains in custody and is being escorted by police to Kelwona to face charges. No court date has been set.
“Our investigators remain steadfast in our commitment along with other community partners who have taken a stance to combat this criminality in our community,” Russell said in a release Tuesday.