Country 102

Country 102

Monday, February 11, 2019

Human Labour Trafficking

Barrie | by Ian MacLennan  
43 people rescued in Barrie and Wasaga Beach from what police are calling modern day slavery.

Police say 43 victims were rescued from what they are calling modern day slavery following search warrants executed in Barrie and Wasaga Beach last week.

An investigation into human labour trafficking began in 2018 following information from a number of sources that Mexican-born workers were being trafficked and defrauded by a Barrie-based cleaning company.

At a news conference today,  OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum said 43 victims were brought to Canada under the pretense of being in the country for educational purposes or the promise of work visas and eventually permanent residency status.

He said they were coached on what to say as they entered the country and were made to live in squalid conditions at locations in Barrie and Wasaga Beach.

Police said the victims are aged 20 to 46 and mostly male.

It's believed they paid the traffickers large sums of money to leave Mexico.

While in Canada, investigators said the victims were transported daily to work as cleaners at a hotel and vacation properties in central and eastern Ontario.

Barnum said they were charged a series of fees for lodging and transportation to and from work, as well as other fees along the way.

He said sometimes after paying various fees, the victims would be left with less than $50 a month.

There were 12 search warrants executed on February 5th by 250 police officers and support staff on six residential properties and six vehicles.

The victims were transported by the traffickers to and from work locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Cornwall. 

The investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected to be laid at a later date. 

Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said all 43 victims have been offered legitimate employment at a local resort.

(Police pictures of what is described as the victims' squalid living conditions)

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