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

Just Posted

West Shore woman’s dog found in Colwood more than two weeks after going missing

Isla went missing on March 10 and was found 17 days later

Saanich police ticket two speeders before 9 a.m., Saturday

Officers still actively enforcing road safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

PHOTOS: Painted fence in Langford shows thanks for essential workers amid COVID-19

Community members finding unique ways to show their appreciation

Duncan man asks community to donate RVs to essential workers in need of quarantine

Ryan Oakley creates a Facebook group to help coordinate the effort

Antibody tests could be the next step in fighting COVID-19, Island doctor says

The blood test could show if a person is recovering or has recovered from the virus

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read