Ontario trafficking ring discovered, 43 victims freed

An Ontario Police ‘Labour Human Trafficking Investigation’ has uncovered a trafficking ring, freeing 43 victims of trafficking and forced labour. In a statement on February 11, police forces announced that investigations into allegations that “Mexican-born workers were being trafficked and/or defrauded by a cleaning company based in Barrie” had uncovered the ring.

Victims had been trafficked to Canada with the promise of education or work visas, leading ultimately to permanent residency. Large sums of money were paid by victims to traffickers for transportation to Canada. Once they arrived, they found themselves forced into work, with traffickers controlling wages and charging accommodation and transportation fees.

Executing 12 search warrants, approximately 250 frontline and support unit members rescued the 43 victims, who were then “brought to safety, re-housed and provided with legal employment”.

In an statement to the press, Chief Kimberley Greenwood of Barrie Police Service said “Whether it involves forced labour or the sex trade, human trafficking is not welcome and has no place in any community.  The victims have renewed hope and the possibility of the better life they were promised now that they are free from the control of people who exploited them for personal gain.”

For the full statement and updates on the ongoing investigation, see https://www.barriepolice.ca/newsroom/2019/02/police-community-help-divert-43-%E2%80%98modern-day-slaves%E2%80%99-details-victim-centred-labour-h

Sonja Duncan