A Coquitlam man made his first appearance in court last Wednesday on seven charges of human trafficking and prostitution.
And Delta Police said there may be other victims.
A news release from the department said it received a tip in May 2017 of a home and individuals in North Delta allegedly involved in prostitution, and that some of the women were under-aged. The operation was advertised via social media.
Delta Police said during the investigation, they identified a 15-year-girl involved in the operation, got her out and put her into the care of the Ministry of Children and Family and a guardian. Department spokesperson Kris Leykauf told The Tri-City News on Tuesday the girl is doing well since being removed. A 16-year-old girl was also identified but has since passed away. Leykauf said she died due to lifestyle issues and not because of the crime being committed against them. A third identified victim was over the age of consent.
"We are concerned there may be other victims who were caught up in this prostitution operation. It appears that women or teen girls were being transported between the Metro Vancouver area and Calgary," said Staff Sgt. Heath Newton of the Delta Police investigations bureau in the release Friday (Oct. 5). "We are encouraging any other victims, or people with further information, to contact us."
Crown counsel approved six prostitution and human trafficking charges and one charge of assault against a former Delta resident, Mohammed Sharif Begg, 35, of Coquitlam in December but did not make his first court appearance until Oct. 3. His next appearance will be in Surrey provincial court on Friday.
"Another individual was also identified as a perpetrator in the prostitution ring but died due to an unrelated incident prior to charge approval," said the release.
Leykauf would not say if the deceased perpetrator was a man or a woman because with no charges being laid, it would be inappropriate to provide any information.
She said the investigation concluded in December 2017 but there was a lot of work compiling the evidence before being presented to the Crown for approval of charges.
Anyone with further information, or who may have been a victim, is asked to contact Delta Police at 604-946-4411 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Leykauf said the department has received several tips since the charges became public that are being followed up.