|Two 15-year-old Ottawa girls were arrested in connection with human trafficking at the Russell housing complex. (KELLY ROCHE/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA — A third teen arrested in connection with an alleged human trafficking is being held in custody after a brief court appearance Friday.
The 16-year-old girl, who is alleged to have pimped out other young girls for sex, was arrested Thursday night in Gatineau.
She is believed to be the last suspect Ottawa police were looking for in connection with an alleged teenage prostitution ring.
“We’ve had information coming in,” said Ottawa police Staff Sgt. John McGetrick, of the sex assault unit. “It all came together (Thursday) night.”
Two 15-year-old girls, who face human trafficking and other charges, were arrested over the weekend.
The 16-year-old girl -- who police had earlier said was 17 years old -- had been on the lam since then.
Police were tight-lipped about the details, but said she was arrested at about 8 p.m. in Gatineau and was later returned to Ottawa.
“We had some information she was over there,” said McGetrick. “It’s one step out of the way, but in a major case, a lot of work starts after the arrest.”
Police said they do not believe any other suspects were involved. Nor have any additional victims come forward, but anyone with information is encouraged to contact Ottawa cops.
The 16-year-old is accused of eight charges related to one teen girl in incidents on May 30. The charges include to “recruit, transport and hold” a person under 18 for exploitation, procuring the same teen girl to become a prostitute and confining, robbing, assaulting and threatening the girl.
She’s also charged with breaching recognizance, including a curfew.
The young woman, wearing glasses with thick, square frames and an oversized hoodie, her hair scraped into a ponytail, made a brief court appearance Friday.
She’ll be back in court by video link Wednesday.
She indicated to her lawyer that she understood what was being said in English and that she understood an order not to communicate with a long list of people, including two 15-year-olds facing similar charges and the alleged victims in the case.
One 15-year-old will appear in court Monday, the second on Tuesday.
Lawyer Nicholas St. Pierre, who said he’s represented the girl before, but wouldn’t give other details, said the girl is under a lot of pressure.
“She understands fully the importance of those charges and that’s why it’s been so rough on her,” St. Pierre said.
“She fully understands them and she is, to use the word, shocked by the allegations that she is facing. She’s doing her best in coping with the media attention that she’s getting from these charges. Obviously, she’s been detained at the moment so therefore it’s hard on her.”
St. Pierre said he’s awaiting disclosure of the evidence against his client before he can schedule any bid for bail.
Police on Friday also said they have yet to arrest any johns in connection with this case.
Neighbours described the girls, one of whom is a high school drop-out, as troublesome. The teens allegedly threw parties, luring girls via social media to a home three times between mid-May and early June. Police said victims were threatened into prostitution, and were also taken to various locations.
“You see these girls walking with a stack of $100 bills in their hands,” a neighbour told QMI Agency.
The identities of all three girls are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
-- With files from Kelly Roche