21 charges laid in labour human trafficking investigation in Orillia

Police allege the suspect promised jobs to several individuals at his subcontracting company

Provincial police have charged an Orillia resident in connection with a labour human trafficking probe in which 15 alleged victims were identified.

On Friday, OPP shared details of the investigation dubbed – Project Sassafras – which started last November after police say they received a tip that a group of individuals were alleged to be victims of labour abuse. Investigators say the suspect promised jobs to several individuals at his subcontracting company in Orillia.

“The workers were promised work permits, training, housing and good salary,” according to police.

Investigators say the workers stayed in two residences that had sleeping conditions which were dirty and inadequate with multiple individuals sleeping in small spaces or sharing a bed. Police allege the workers received partial or, in some cases, no payment for their work, and the accused allegedly threatened them that if they went to the police they would be arrested or deported, and he allegedly threatened the safety of their families.

A 59-year-old man has been charged with 11 counts of human trafficking and 10 counts of material benefits of trafficking people.

“Fifteen victims, ranging from 21 to 54 years old, were identified,” police said. “The victims remain supported through the OPP IJFS Victim Specialist and Simcoe Muskoka and Toronto Victims’ Services. Assistance was also provided by the Ministry of Labour, the Mexican Consulate, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and the Neighbourhood Organization”

Police say the investigation remains ongoing, and it’s expected that there are more victims who have yet to come forward.

Investigators ask anyone who hired JJUL’S Enterprises Inc. in the last few months to speak with the police by calling 1-888-310-1122.

Banner – supplied by OPP of living conditions of residences where alleged human trafficking victims stayed