Halton Hills man faces human trafficking charges following nationwide investigation

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Published May 24, 2023 at 12:46 pm

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A 53-year-old man from Halton Hills is among four charged in a labour human trafficking investigation that had links to Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

The investigation, named Project Foxtrot, began in February when Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) members received information of suspected labour trafficking involving foreign nationals from Mexico, who were being exploited.

Police said 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, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Levis, Que.

They were housed in several short-term rentals around Canada and in the basement of one of the accused people in Simcoe County. Police allege payment for the accommodation was taken from the victims’ wages, which was less than had been promised.

On May 16, 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.

Mikhael Akin, 53, of Halton Hills, 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.

Facing similar charges are Miroslaw Blachuta, 72, of Etobicoke, Francisco Eluid Antionio-Olvera, 33, of Simcoe County, and Floriberta Sarmiento, 27 of Simcoe County.

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.

“Project Foxtrot demonstrates the exploitation of human trafficking victims in plain sight and the necessity of the IJFS and its partners to help unmask this crime,” said Det.-Insp. Jordan Whitesell, OPP IJFS Lead.

“It serves as a stark reminder that human trafficking remains a largely clandestine and complex crime that easily goes unnoticed. 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.”

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