Four people, including one from Halton Region, have been charged in relation to a labour human trafficking investigation with links to Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
Ontario Provincial Police launched an investigation called Project Foxtrot on Feb. 13 after receiving information about suspected trafficking involving victims from Mexico. Police say the victims were recruited online with the promise of getting work permits and jobs in Canada.
The three male victims, between 27 and 42 years old, were expected to work at recycling facilities in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Lévis, Que., and Red Deer, Alta.
“They were housed in several short-term rentals around Canada and in the basement of one of the accused people in Simcoe County,” police stated in a news release. “Payment for the accommodation was taken from the victims’ wages, which was less than had been promised.”
On May 16, the Joint Forces Strategy, led by Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence, as well as OPP, the Anishinabek Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police and Halton Regional Police Service, executed search warrants at locations in Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area.
Francisco Eluid Antionio-Olvera, 33, of Simcoe County, has been charged with three counts of human trafficking of persons and three counts of material benefits in trafficking of persons. A bail hearing was scheduled for May 23.
Floriberta Sarmiento, 27, of Simcoe County, has been charged with one count of trafficking in persons and one count of material benefits in trafficking of persons. She was released on an undertaking and is set to appear in Brampton court on June 26.
Miroslaw Blachuta, 72, of Etobicoke, has been charged with three counts of human trafficking of persons and three counts of material benefits in trafficking of persons. He was released on an undertaking and will appear in Brampton court on July 17.
Mikhael Akin, 53, of Halton, has been charged with three counts of trafficking in persons. He was released on an undertaking and is set to appear in Brampton court on July 17.
“Project Foxtrot demonstrates the exploitation of human trafficking victims in plain sight and the necessity of the (Joint Forces Strategy) 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,” said Det.-Insp. Jordan Whitesell, Joint Forces Strategy lead. “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."
Police ask anyone with information about human trafficking to call the national hotline at 1-833-900-1010.