Police Rescue 43 Human Trafficking Victims, Charges Coming

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(BARRIE, ON) – Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Barrie Police Service, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and community-based agencies have released more details of a labour human trafficking investigation with connections to central and eastern Ontario.

Since 2018, police began investigating information that suggested Mexican-born workers were being trafficked and/or defrauded by a cleaning company based in Barrie.

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They had been brought to Canada under the pretense of being here for either educational purposes or the promise of work visas and eventual permanent residency status.

At a news conference today, OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, Barrie Police Chief Kimberley GREENWOOD and representatives from Canada Border Services Agency, Barrie and Area Victim Services, and County of Simcoe Paramedic Services elaborated on their organization’s roles prior to, during, and after last week’s police activities.

The victims 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.

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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.

On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, approximately 250 frontline and support unit members from the OPP, Barrie Police and CBSA executed 12 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.

The investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected be laid at a later date. But police and community support advocates remind everyone that, if they believe they or someone they know is a victim of any form of human trafficking, to contact police or community victim services agencies for assistance.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Labour human trafficking is a difficult crime to investigate. At every stage, our collective concern has been to ensure these 43 victims are well cared for from a personal health and wellness perspective and that they are now safely housed.” – Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, Provincial Commander OPP Investigations and Organized Crime.

“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.” – Chief Kimberley GREENWOOD, Barrie Police Service.

Below are the photos of the conditions the victims were living in.

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2 Replies to “Police Rescue 43 Human Trafficking Victims, Charges Coming”

  1. Wow to think that this is going on in this day and age right under peoples noses. The people responsible for this kind of crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law these people are dispicable and do not deserve to walk the streets jail for life with no possibility for parole ever and that is better then what they deserve. Just my opinion that is all.

  2. This city is getting worse everyday. The crime here is terrible people are afraid to go out on the streets at night. And even during the day. At one time you very ever seldom heard of the violence that is taking place here daily. Everything from stabbings to murders to vicious assaults. The drugs here are so great evertime you turn around there is some kind of drug bust and places you would think are safe. But then again there are not to many safe places here at all anymore. What once was the best part of town has turned into the hood with robberies and anything else that is unsafe I used to be proud to say that I came from Thunder Bay now I am embarrassed by the way this place has become I do not want to tell people that I live here anymore. The police can only do so much and they are always being put down for doing their jobs. Now the stabbings are starting to turn into shootings when we have the highest ratings for murders per capita that should tell you something. I just wish that they could clean up the streets and send all these gang members back to where they belong maybe someday we will be safe again but I do not hold my breath waiting for that day.
    Our homeless population is out of control for the size of the city but there seems to be nothing that can be done about it. Maybe get a bigger shelter for them which is hard to do. I do not know why they cannot open up some of these churches that are dormant for the homeless to at least have someplace to go to sleep that is warm. There are two good size churches that could be used for this right now that are vacant and standing idle that is the United Church at the corner of brock & brown and Saint Lukes church on the corner of Mckenzie & I think Dease Streets. Why does the city not look into doing something worthwhile with these churches at least for the winter months it would at least give these people a place to go to sleep at night and get them off the streets.
    Well that is my rant and my opinion just some food for thought.

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