Trish Kelly says her brother, Shawn Kelly, got caught up in the wrong crowd prior to being arrested on suspicion of human trafficking in Swift Current, Sask., on Jan. 28, 2020. (Courtesy of Trish Kelly)

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

The sister of one of the four Vancouver Island residents charged with human trafficking-related offences in Saskatchewan last month says she believes her brother got caught up with the wrong crowd.

Trish Kelly says her younger brother, Shawn Alexander Kelly, 23, had been planning to drive to Ontario to live with his mother, but would give his roommates, 19-year-old twins Seyed Kourosh Miralinaghi and Seyed Kamran Miralinaghi, and their mother, Shermineh Ziaee, 36, a ride to Montreal first.

“My brother was getting tired of [living] down here and he missed our family up in Ontario,” says Kelly, adding that her brother had been thinking about moving for months.

Shawn, the brothers and their mother were arrested on Jan. 28 in Swift Current, Sask., on suspicion of human trafficking after they were stopped for speeding on Highway 1 in a tight group. Upon pulling the three vehicles over, police found two underage girls, neither of whom had identification, in the back seat of separate vehicles with tinted windows.

RELATED: Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Shermineh Sheri Ziaee was arrested with her twin 19-year-old sons, Seyed Kourosh Miralinaghi and Seyed Kamran Miralinaghi and Shawn Alexander Kelly on Jan. 28 in Swift Current, Sask. and charged with human trafficking related offences. (Shermineh Sheri Ziaee/Facebook)

The twins remain in custody in Saskatchewan, but Ziaee returned to Greater Victoria on Feb. 6 after being released on $1,000 bail. The following day, she told Black Press Media in a brief interview outside her home that she was innocent and that they had been travelling to Montreal when they were arrested.

Shawn Kelly was also released on a promise to appear but was arrested again on a weapons breach. According to his sister, he had been staying in Saskatchewan with their uncle, who owns a hunting gun and had forgotten to lock the safe when police searched the home following his arrest.

RELATED: Victoria man charged with human trafficking offences is back in jail for weapons breach

“It’s not like he had a gun and was going to use it. It was just in the house,” Trish Kelly says.

Shawn and his sister were born in Ontario and moved to Victoria with their father when they were young. Shortly after their arrival, the siblings were put into foster care. A couple of years ago, their father died from a heroin overdose, Kelly says, which is why Shawn does not use drugs or alcohol.

Since the news came out that her brother had been charged, Kelly says she has been anxious — even experiencing panic attacks — due to hateful comments posted on social media.

“People need to understand that it’s hard for his family to be dealing with this, knowing that he could have done this,” she says. “He could not have done this … Shawn’s not the monster everyone thinks he is.”

RELATED: Victoria police ask victims of human trafficking to come forward in light of recent arrests



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Human trafficking

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

UPDATE: Missing Langford teens found safe

Pair were headed to Lake Cowichan/Youbou area, last heard from in North Cowichan

Police use tear gas to apprehend Saanich woman threatening neighbours, police

Woman facing possible criminal charges after standoff with police

Victoria woman loses $2,500 to scammer spoofing VicPD phone number

VicPD warns against sharing personal information, sending money to strangers

Investigation launched after sudden death of Saanich inmate

B.C. Corrections, B.C. Coroners Service investigating cause, circumstances surrounding death

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

BC Wildfire Service to conduct night vision trials for helicopters in South Okanagan

This technology could assist with future firefighting operations

Victoria man dies after skydiving incident on Vancouver Island

34-year-old had made more than 1,000 jumps

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

Most Read