43 Mexicans freed in Canada from a "modern slavery"

Police in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, announced Monday the release of a group of 43 Mexicans, mostly men between 20 and 46 years old, who lived in conditions similar to slavery. The events occurred on Tuesday of last week, as a result of an investigation in which the Border Services Agency of Canada and the police of the city of Barrie (near Toronto) also collaborated. Mexican citizens were forced to clean up in hotels in central and eastern Ontario.

They had been lured by traffickers under the promise of work visas and permanent residency. However, they were forced to work almost free of charge in hotels
They had been lured by traffickers under the promise of work visas and permanent residency. However, they were forced to work almost free of charge in hotels

"Trafficking is modern slavery," said Rick Barnum, commissioner of Investigation and Organized Crime of the Ontario Police at a press conference held Monday in the same city of Barrie. According to the information provided by Barnum, these people lived in very precarious conditions and were transported daily to the different hotels to work. They also had to integrate various quotas to their captors to cover transport, maintenance and "logistics" expenses for their arrival, under unfulfilled promises, to the North American country. In the end, some of them, the most serious cases, received salaries of less than 50 Canadian dollars per month (slightly less than 38 US dollars).

The 43 Mexicans received instructions on what they should respond to the immigration agents upon arrival in Canada, by air, to avoid any obstacles. Since December 2016 the nationals of the Latin American country no longer need a visa to enter Canada as tourists.

According to Rick Barnum, the investigations began after some people informed the authorities that a Barrie cleaning company was exploiting and defrauding Mexican workers. Those same complainants told how these people had arrived in Canada under the promise of obtaining work visas and, eventually, the coveted permanent residence.

On Tuesday of last week, when these people were released, 12 search warrants were carried out in the cities of Barrie and Wasaga Beach in which some 250 agents participated. The detectives investigate the background of the individuals who ran the cleaning company. Also, the authorities have refused to cite the names of the hotels that benefited from this almost free labor force.

At the press conference held on Monday, Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood has indicated that those rescued have been placed under shelter in a victims' center where they have had access to showers, food and clothing. of having received medical evaluations and support from translators. They are also in contact with the Federal Ministry of Immigration, Refuge, and Citizenship, which will establish their future immigration status in Canada. "These people are now free from those who wanted to exploit them for personal gain," Greenwood said. "It is inconceivable that this situation was happening in our community."

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