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Mississauga man arrested in alleged human-trafficking ring

Police have made a second arrest in a sex-related human-trafficking investigation encompassing an alleged network of prostitutes, some of them juveniles, in different Southwestern Ontario jurisdictions.

David Mackay Stone, 24, of Mississauga was arrested Thursday on charges of gang sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, human trafficking and unlawful confinement. He was to appear in court in Milton Friday for a bail hearing where prosecutors were expected to urge that he be held in custody.

In October, 25-year-old Aldain Alando Beckford of Milton was charged with a total of 12 offences stemming from the same investigation. They include aggravated sexual assault, human trafficking, living off the proceeds of juvenile prostitution and a variety of weapons offences. Mr. Beckford remains behind bars awaiting trial.

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Thursday's arrest coincided with an announcement by the Ontario government that it is committing just under $2-million over the next three years to support victims of human trafficking in the province. The money - scorned by opposition critics as paltry - will be spent on specialized prosecution in the shape of two dedicated Crown attorneys, a 24-hour crisis hot-line, intelligence-gathering by the Ontario Provincial Police and extra officers for the vice unit of Peel Regional Police.

With several police leaders on hand, including Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, the initiative was outlined by Attorney-General Chris Bentley, who described human trafficking as "an appalling crime."

Human trafficking takes numerous forms, from enforced prostitution to sweatshop labour, and the RCMP has estimated that up to 800 victims are brought into Canada each year by various means.

In this case, however, police believe the network allegedly run by Mr. Stone and Mr. Beckford was entirely a domestic prostitution operation, involving young women in Halton, Peel, Niagara, and the area in and around London. Detectives are also anxious to interview any victims who have so far not been identified.

"We want to make sure they're doing it willingly, and if they're not, we want them to contact us," said Detective Sergeant Brad Cook of the Halton Regional Police child-abuse and sexual assault unit.

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At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More

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