2 people from Simcoe County among those charged in human labour trafficking investigation

Police say foreign nationals from Mexico were being recruited online

A human labour trafficking investigation that police launched in February has resulted in charges against four people including two individuals from Simcoe County.

Dubbed Project Foxtrot, police say they received information about foreign nationals from Mexico being recruited online with offers of work permits and employment in Canada. OPP say the three male victims, ranging from 27 to 42 years of age, were expected to work at various recycling facilities in Quebec, Alberta, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.

According to police, the victims were housed at several short-term rentals across the country and in the basement of one of the suspects from Simcoe County.

“Payment for the accommodation was taken from the victims’ wages, which was less than had been promised,” police stated in a news release.

Search warrants were executed earlier this month and a 33-year-old and a 27-year-old from Simcoe County and two individuals from the Greater Toronto Area were arrested and charged.

“Project Foxtrot demonstrates the exploitation of human trafficking victims in plain sight and the necessity of the IJFS and its partners to help unmask this crime. It serves as a stark reminder that human trafficking remains a largely clandestine and complex crime that easily goes unnoticed. We must come together to educate ourselves, recognize the signs, empower survivors and provide hope to victims to combat this hidden threat. We cannot fight this alone,” said Detective Inspector Jordan Whitesell, OPP IJFS Lead

All victims were provided services through the OPP IJFS Victim Specialist and FCJ Refugee Centre.

IJFS partner agencies who supported this investigation also included Barrie Police Service, Kingston Police, Ottawa Police Service, Greater Sudbury Police Service, Quebec City Police Service, York Regional Police, Durham Regional Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service and Waterloo Regional Police Service. The Canada Border Services Agency and Ministry of Labour provided assistance.