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2 men arrested after woman allegedly shot, forced into prostitution

Last Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 2:28 pm EDT

Dante Thaxter, 18, (left) and Tyrel McLean, 18, charged in Human Trafficking and shooting investigation, Feb. 22, 2018. HANDOUT/Toronto Police Service

Two men face a total of 56 charges after a 19-year-old woman was allegedly forced into the sex trade.

It’s alleged that between Jan. 8 and Feb. 10, two men took photographs of the woman in various degrees of undress, created ads for sexual services, and posted them online.

She was then allegedly taken to various Airbnb rentals in different regions including Toronto, Peel, Durham and York Region, and was forced to provide sexual services to clients.

The men allegedly took her identification and forced her to turn over all the money she earned to them.

When the woman told them she didn’t want to be an escort, one of the men allegedly shot a gun at her, hitting her in the lower body.

The men allegedly denied her medical attention and between Feb. 5 and Feb. 10, 2018, transported her to several addresses in the GTA.

The woman eventually was able to escape and went to a local hospital.

On Tuesday, members of the Human Trafficking Enforcement Team arrested Tyrel McLean, 18, of Hamilton and Dante Thaxter, 18, of Peel Region.

Both men face multiple human trafficking and firearm charges.

Police are concerned there may be other victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474.

Det. Sgt. Nunzio Tramontozzi said this recent case of alleged human trafficking is the latest in a growing trend involving people using Airbnb rentals to conduct their illicit transactions.

Tramontozzi said police have seen a surge in such cases over roughly the past two years.

“We’re seeing an emerging trend with human traffickers using more Airbnbs in the city of Toronto and the GTA,” he said. “It’s more anonymous for them, so it’s a lot easier not to be caught by the police when they’re in these private type of residences rather than hotels and motels where we could get more information.”

Airbnb said it worked with Toronto police on the latest case and noted that it takes the challenge of confronting human trafficking very seriously.

Tramontozzi says people thinking of listing their properties on Airbnb should be more diligent in checking on prospective renters, but did not offer specific guidance.