Multiple victims of human trafficking are somewhere safer today in an investigation representing new territory for local police.
This is according to Barrie Police, who partnered with the OPP and Canadian Border Security today to execute a series of search warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach in relation to a labour human trafficking investigation.
Barrie Police’s Peter Leon says this is different than the human trafficking most people immediately think of, in that it was not sexual in nature. “This is a type of investigation… that we have not seen at all, to the best of my knowledge, in this area. It deals with the exploitation of labour, the forced labour of individuals. I think it’s important for people to understand that human trafficking can take varied and different forms.”
Leon wouldn’t elaborate on the work these individuals were being forced to do, but says it has all the elements of human trafficking. “It deals with situations where individuals are being exploited; they are doing a job and they are certainly not seeing the full remuneration for the job that they are doing.”
“There’s that element of control that exists within that element of human trafficking that we are seeing here: their movements, their actions are being controlled, and what they are being paid is also being controlled, by the persons responsible for this activity.”
As for those behind this, Leon says the investigation is ongoing, “We are hopeful in the days to come, we’ll be in a position to update that. But what is most important here is the individuals rescued yesterday have been safely relocated. They spent last night with a good roof over their head, they’ve been well provided for, and they’re on the road to recovery.”
Charges have yet to be laid in this case, while further details are expected at an upcoming media conference.