Canada: Ontario's Project Foxtrot leads to human trafficking investigation
Toronto/IBNS: A human trafficking investigation by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) allegedly led to four residents facing charges for forcing four victims to pay for their own accommodations in an accused's basement.
OPP was reported saying that victims were lured with the promise of a good-paying job and work permits.
After the launch of Project Foxtrot in mid-February' police officers received information about suspected labour trafficking involving exploiting foreign nationals from Mexico
Police say the victims were hired through a subcontractor to work at various recycling facilities in Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Red Deer in Alberta, and Levis in Quebec.
Unaware that the workers were victims of human trafficking, the facilities had been cooperating with the investigation, police say.
The victims, three men between 27 and 42 years old, were renting in one of the accused's basements in Tottenham, which police say was cold and had no running water with victims expected to sleep on an air mattress they had to purchase themselves.
OPP says the three men alleged the accommodations were paid for out of the victims' wages, which was less than promised.
"This is modern-day slavery in its worst form," said OPP Det. Insp. Jordan Whitesell.
Officers arrested and charged two Simcoe County residents, Francisco Eluid Antionio-Olvera, 33, and Floriberta Sarmiento, 27, while two others, Miroslaw Blachuta, 72, of Etobicoke, and Mikhael Akin, 53, of Halton were charged for human trafficking.
Further investigation by the provincial police to find more victims is ongoing
The OPP says the investigation had been supported by members from various police services, including Barrie, Kingston, Ottawa, Sudbury, Quebec, and York Region, along with the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Ministry of Labour.(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)