OPP frees 43 ‘modern day slaves’

Special to WC Online

ONTARIO – The Ontario Provincial Police says it has freed 43 “modern day slaves” from Mexico, allegedlyforced to work as cleaners at a hotel and vacation properties in central and eastern Ontario.

Officers with the Ontario Provincial Police and Barrie police began investigating the alleged scam last year, culminating in 12 search warrants they executed last week.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum says the alleged victims were lured to Canada believing they would be offered legitimate employment and educational opportunities.

Instead, they were forced to live in “squalid” conditions and made to pay their alleged traffickers large sums of money.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” Barnum said. “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.” 

After paying various fees to their employers, Barnum says the alleged victims would sometimes make as little as $50 per month for daily work.

There’s no word on criminal charges, but Barnum says they may come later.

Police say they are keeping close track of two people who were running the company that employed the foreign workers as the investigation continues.

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