Police say 43 victims of labour human trafficking have been freed following a lengthy investigation in Barrie and Wasaga Beach.
At a press conference in Barrie on Monday, representatives from the Barrie police, the Ontario Provincial Police, Barrie and Area Victim Services, and the County of Simcoe Paramedic services released more details of the investigation.
According to police, on Tuesday, officers executed 12 search warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach. As a result, officers say 43 labour human trafficking victims, mostly men, between the ages of 20 and 46 were brought to safety.
Police say the victims were born in Mexico and had paid large sums of money to traffickers to leave their home country and be transported to Canada.
Officers say the victims were brought to Canada under the pretense of education or the promise of work visas and eventually permanent residency status.
However, officers say once in Canada, they were made to live in squalid conditions in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, and were forced to work for a cleaning company.
Police say the traffickers controlled the victim’s wages and charged them for accommodations and transportation.
Officers believe the cleaning company is run by two individuals, however, they are seeking more suspects.
Police say once they were rescued, the victims were medically assessed, re-housed and provided legal employment at a local resort.
According to police, the investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected to be laid at a later date.
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