Police in Ontario free 43 Mexicans brought to Canada by alleged human traffickers

Ontario Provincial Police say they have freed 43 modern-day slaves brought to Canada from Mexico by alleged human traffickers and forced to work as cleaners at hotels.The 43, mostly men aged 20 to 46, were coached on what to say when they entered Canada, lived in "squalid" conditions in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, and were transported to hotel and vacation properties in Central and Eastern Ontario to work, police said on Monday. All were freed last Tuesday following a joint investigation that involved the OPP, Barrie Police Service and Canada Border Services Agency. "Human trafficking is modern-day slavery," OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum told reporters in Barrie. "Exploitation is the key element of this offence."Police said the traffickers allegedly controlled the pay made by the workers. The victims had paid the traffickers large amounts of money to leave Mexico and were charged fees for transportation and lodgings. The Mexicans worked at locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Cornwall, Ont., police said.In some cases, police said the Mexicans, after paying various fees, were left with less than $50 a month. Here is another example of the squalid conditions the workers faced. (Ontario Provincial Police)'This morning, I woke up a free man'One victim reportedly told investigators: "Last night, I went to bed a slave. This morning, I woke up a free man."The alleged traffickers have not been arrested or charged.A number of sources told police last year that a Barrie-based cleaning company, run by two people, was trafficking and defrauding the Mexican-born workers.OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum says: 'Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Exploitation is the key element of this offence.' (CBC)The Mexicans had been brought to Canada "under the pretense" of being here for educational purposes or the promise of work visas and eventually permanent residency status.Barnum added the workers are now here legally. Since they were rescued, they have been offered legal work and accommodations at a Barrie-area resort, Barrie police said.Twelve search warrants were executed last Tuesday in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, six involving resi ...Read more

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