Victims are in a Place of Safety
Police have arrested four individuals in a labour human trafficking investigation that had links to Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.
The investigation, named Project Foxtrot, began on February 13, 2023, when OPP members received information of suspected labour trafficking involving foreign nationals from Mexico who were being exploited. The victims were recruited online and promised work permits and good paying employment in Canada.
The victims were expected to work at various recycling facilities in Red Deer (Alberta), North Bay (Ontario) and Sault Ste Marie (Ontario) and Levis (Quebec). They were housed in several short-term rentals around Canada and in the basement of one of the accused people in Simcoe County. Payment for the accommodation was taken from the victims’ wages, which was less than had been promised.
On May 16, 2023, the Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-led Joint Forces Strategy (IJFS) members from the OPP, Anishnibek Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police and Halton Regional Police Service executed search warrants at locations throughout Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area.
As a result of the investigation, on May 16, 2023:
- Miroslaw Blachuta, 72 years old of Etobicoke, was arrested and charged with three counts of Human Trafficking of Persons, as per Section 279.01, and three counts of Material Benefits in Trafficking of Persons. He was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in Brampton Court on July 17, 2023.
- Francisco Eluid Antionio-Olvera, 33 years old of Simcoe County, was arrested and charged with three counts of Human Trafficking of Persons, as per Section 279.01, and three counts of Material Benefits in Trafficking of Persons. A bail hearing has been scheduled for May 23, 2023.
- Mikhael Akin, 53 years old of Halton, was arrested and charged with three counts of Trafficking in Persons. He was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in Brampton Court on July 17, 2023.
- Floriberta Sarmiento, 27 years old of Simcoe County, was arrested and charged with one count of Trafficking in Persons, as per Section 279.01 and one count of Material Benefit in Trafficking of Persons. She was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in Brampton Court on June 26, 2023.
The three male victims range from 27 to 42 years old. 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.
If you or someone you know is being trafficked, call your local police. The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has resources available for victims and survivors of human trafficking on their website at canadiancentretoendhumantrafficking.ca. A national hotline is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-833-900-1010.