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Project Sabr – Human Trafficking Investigation

Sergeant Rich Akin
VPD Vice Unit

In Farsi, “sabr” is defined as: probing (a wound); testing; trying; examining (any business) to the bottom.

You might wonder why I’m giving you the definition of a Farsi word. Often when we begin an investigation and it morphs into a complex and involved project, we’re tasked with finding an appropriate name for it. In this case, sabr defines exactly what we did and couldn’t be more apt in terms of what we wanted to achieve.

While some of the results of Project Sabr are complete, with an arrest made and charges laid, there remains more work for us to do. Information about the victims and any witnesses are the subject of a publication ban, but today I will share with you what I can of the limited details of Project Sabr.

Reza Moazami, a 27 year old Vancouver resident, was arrested in a single family residence located in South Vancouver, by the VPD’s Vice Unit on October 7th, 2011. At that time, Moazami was arrested and charged with two counts of living on the avails of prostitution of a juvenile and one count of keeping a common bawdy house and he was remanded into custody.

During the course of arresting Moazami, two juvenile females were found within the residence and were taken into care.

Prior to this arrest, Project Sabr began back in August, when MOAZAMI was identified as a suspect in a prostitution-related probe. Sabr quickly developed into an investigation into juvenile prostitution and suspected inter-provincial human trafficking.

Despite the arrest and charges on October 7th, our work was not done, and over the course of the next two weeks we probed all of the details, discovered new information and worked to develop evidence to support more charges.

On October 25, 2011, Reza MOAZAMI was formally charged by the Provincial Crown, with a total of 18 criminal offences. The October 7th charges are included in the indictment laid on October 25th, 2011.

These offences are alleged to have occurred between February 2009 and October 2011 against four juvenile females (below the age of 18 years).

The charges laid to date include the following:

  • four counts of living on the avails of a juvenile (five-year minimum mandatory sentence if convicted)
  • four counts of living on the avails of a juvenile while using, threatened to use or attempt to use violence, intimidation/coercion(five-year minimum mandatory sentence if convicted)
  • four counts of trafficking in persons under the age of 18 (five-year minimum mandatory sentence)
  • two counts of sexual interference
  • four counts of sexual exploitation

This is only the second time in Vancouver Police history that human trafficking charges have been laid in a case of sex trade workers and the first involving youth.

Moazami’s next scheduled court appearance is on November 21st, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in Provincial court at 222 Main Street.

As I mentioned earlier, Project Sabr does not end here. Vice Unit Detectives are still actively investigating the activities of Reza Moazami and are encouraging anyone with pertinent information relating to this case to contact investigators in the VPD Vice Unit at vpd.vice@vpd.ca or by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.