47 men arrested in police sting of those looking for sex with teenage girls

Vancouver police say they’ve arrested 47 men who were willing to pay for sexual services from teenage girls.

Seven of those people have now been charged and police say they include a school teacher and a firefighter among others.

Deputy Chief Const. Laurence Rankin said they were arrested as part of a two-month operation that targeted people seeking sex with girls between the ages of 15 and 17.

“I want to make it clear that these projects were not about sexual activity between two consenting adults,” he said. “I have huge issues with johns and pimps gaining gratification or financial benefit through the exploitation of young people in our city.”

Those charged face an allegation of attempting to obtain the sexual services of a person under the age of 18 years, he said.

“The vast majority of men were looking for adult women,” Rankin said. “What’s disconcerting is the small group of men who were excited that the girls were underage.”

The police operation was divided into two sections, where detectives worked online and then made arrests when the men showed up at a hotel, as arranged, for the sexual encounter, Rankin said.

Given their success, he said police “certainly are anticipating” continuing with the operation.

Rankin said police consulted with sex workers and their support groups before they began the sting operation.

Larissa Maxwell, director of anti-human trafficking programs for the Salvation Army, said their organization was part of early consultations and the Vancouver police were very sensitive about wanting to do this appropriately.

Maxwell said the efforts are important and she wants the police to continue such operations.

“A country that buys and sells its own children is a broken one and its time for us to do something about it.”

Susan Davis, director of the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities, a sex workers support group, said she was also part of consultations and was pleased with the outcome.

“Those people who seek to engage with youth or exploit youth have no place in our community and deserve the full brunt and punishment of the law,” she said.

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