Woman lured vulnerable teens into sex for drugs, money: Manitoba RCMP

A Long Plain First Nation woman has been charged after RCMP allege she befriended at least two teens and lured them into performing sexual acts on several men in exchange for drugs and money in a southern Manitoba city.

Seven people were arrested and 65 charges were laid after 10 searches were done during an investigation in Portage la Prairie by the Mounties’ internet child exploitation unit, RCMP Insp. Shawn Pike said at a news conference Tuesday.

“This was a fairly organized operation where the suspects used multiple platforms with the deliberate intent to exploit minors,” Pike said.

Police know of two 15-year-old victims, but believe there may be more, he said. Investigators have identified another girl, who is 13 or 14 years old and also believed to have been exploited by the group, but she has not yet been found.

Pike said the investigation has been complex and continues to unfold.

“Is it possible that there’s more than just one other person? Yes, it’s possible, but I don’t have an exact answer as far as a number.”

The investigation began in early February, after RCMP received a tip about a young girl seen with older men, police said in a news release. When officers found her, they found another 15-year-old girl who was also being exploited.

Investigators learned that the two teens were befriended by a woman who said they could hang out with her and some of her friends to get drugs and money.

The teens trusted the woman and went with her to various homes in Portage la Prairie — a city of about 13,000 people — from June and December 2023, police say.

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At each location, there would be a man who would provide drugs in exchange for sexual acts from the teens, according to RCMP. In many instances, the teens could not escape the homes as they were locked in by the woman, who stayed throughout each interaction, they said.

The teens would receive drugs, and sometimes money, after performing sexual acts on the man, police say. The woman would also receive drugs, including methamphetamine, as a form of payment

Youth exploitation a ‘tragic reality’

Pike said the teens were vulnerable and the woman built up trust with them over time.

“It’s about playing on vulnerabilities, it’s about playing on wants,” including a need for money, shelter and to feel important, he said.

RCMP divisional human trafficking co-ordinator Staff Sgt. Tara Clelland said it’s not rare for women to recruit young girls into the sex trade, since they’re often perceived as less threatening to victims they lure.

“As a society, we have a difficult time accepting that women harm, women exploit, and with sexually based offences especially,” she told reporters after the news conference.

Pike said that cases like this are “a kind of crime that becomes vastly under-reported, because a lot of times you’re counting on the person who’s being victimized to come forward.”

He said while police were able to disrupt the exploitation of the two teens, the “tragic reality” is that there are more cases like it.

“If you think it’s not happening in your community, you are wrong. Youth of all ages, backgrounds and life circumstances can be exploited and taken advantage of through the actions of adults,” he said.

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“This is human trafficking.… These kids are getting hurt.”

Portage la Prairie Mayor Sharilyn Knox says the situation will be ‘quite a shock’ for the city of roughly 13,000 people. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Portage la Prairie Mayor Sharilyn Knox called the situation “heartbreaking” and said it will be “quite a shock” for the small city.

“This is probably the hardest day I’ve had as mayor, to be thinking that children in our community were harmed this way, and knowing that there could be more,” Knox told reporters. 

“This is just another wake-up call for us to actually, really look at our community.”

Police urge the public to stay vigilant for signs of human trafficking, including unexpected behaviour such as young people travelling alone at unusual times, who don’t have identification or money, or show fear of law enforcement, said Pike.

6 men charged

During their investigation, police seized a large amount of methamphetamine, cocaine and 13 firearms — including rifles and shotguns, RCMP said. They also seized a number of devices, including computers, phones and external hard drives, said Pike.

Clelland said the scale of the operation is not yet known, as investigators are still combing through the seized devices.

A woman with shoulder-length blond hair looks forward.
RCMP divisional human trafficking co-ordinator Staff Sgt. Tara Clelland says investigators are still combing through devices seized during their investigation, including computers, phones and external hard drives. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Chasity Nicole Assiniboine, 43, from Long Plain First Nation, is charged with two counts of trafficking a person under the age of 18, four counts of child luring, two counts of uttering threats, benefiting from sexual services provided by someone under the age of 18, advertising sexual services and procuring a person under the age of 18.

Five men from Portage la Prairie — Sean Michael Boak, 40, David Guy Howard Taylor, 40, Alexander Paul Lidster, 39, Wesley Clayton Roulette, 44, and Frank Peter Justin Tecza, 39 — face a number of charges in connection with the incidents, including sexual assault, sexual interference and child luring.

A sixth man, Scott Joseph Taylor, 34, faces a charge of obtaining sexual services from a person under 18 and an unsafe firearms storage charge.

All seven of the people accused know each other, RCMP said.

For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

Woman lured vulnerable teens into sex for drugs, money: Manitoba RCMP

A woman has been charged after RCMP allege she befriended at least two teens and lured them into performing sexual acts on several men in exchange for drugs and money in the southern Manitoba city of Portage la Prairie.

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