Details of Victim-centred Labour Human Trafficking Investigation
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
Since 2018, police began investigating information that suggested Mexican-born workers
were being trafficked and/or defrauded by a cleaning company based in Barrie. 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. 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 healt h 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
OPP Contact Information