Charges laid in human trafficking investigation

Police report that four Barrie residents have been charged with several offences as part of ongoing labour human trafficking investigation.
Since 2018, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Barrie Police Service, and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) investigated information that suggested Mexican-born workers were being trafficked and/or defrauded by a cleaning company based in Barrie. The 43 victims identified had been brought to Canada under the pretence of being here for either educational purposes or for the promise of work permits and eventual permanent residency status, Police report.
The four have been charged with:
• Employ A Foreign National Without Authorization, contrary to Section 124 (1) (c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
• Trafficking In Persons, contrary to Section 279.01 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada;
• Material Benefit – Trafficking, contrary to Section 279.02 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada;
• Possession Of Property Obtained By Crime, contrary to Section 354 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada;
• Participation In Activities Of Criminal Organization, contrary to Section 467.11 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
The accused are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie on Wednesday, July 3, police report.
Police and community support advocates remind everyone that if they or someone they know believe is a victim of any form of human trafficking, to contact police or community victim services agencies for assistance. Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact Police at humantrafficking@barriepolice.ca , call 705-725-7025 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.
The victims had initially paid the traffickers large sums of money to leave their home country and be transported to Canada. Once here, the victims were made to live in squalid conditions at locations in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, police report. The victims were transported by the traffickers to and from forced work locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Cornwall. The traffickers controlled wages and charged the victims fees for accommodations and transportation.
In February 2019, members from the OPP, Barrie Police Service and CBSA executed several search warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach. Thanks to advanced, victim-focussed planning, the 43 victims – mostly males ranging in age from 20 to 46 years – were brought to safety, re-housed and provided with legal employment.

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