64 Mexican workers ‘abused’ by trafficking ring, Mississauga woman among seven charged
Published March 3, 2023 at 12:19 pm
A Mississauga woman is among seven people facing numerous charges after police busted an international labour trafficking ring in which 64 Mexican workers were exploited and abused while working in factories, warehouses and on farms across the GTA.
Peel Regional Police executed at least one search warrant in Mississauga in aid of the sweeping York Regional Police-led investigation dubbed Project Norte, in which the more than five dozen Mexican-born nationals were found to have been exploited by an organized group of criminals that enticed the victims to Canada with “promises of good work and a better life,” York cops said at a news conference this morning (March 3).
“However, they ended up living in deplorable conditions and were driven to work sites in private buses which were in a state of disrepair,” police said. “The workers were mistreated, abused and exploited for manual labour at farms, factories and warehouses across the GTA. The victims lived in squalor and were compelled to work long hours for little pay, while their exploiters reaped the benefits of their labour and lived in luxury.”
Police say the investigation was launched last November in York after police received information that foreign workers were being exploited in that region.
The probe grew from there, police say, and on Feb. 8 search warrants were executed at five properties in Mississauga, Vaughan, Toronto and East Gwillimbury (York Region).
At that time, the 64 victims were rescued and five people charged. Subsequently, two other suspects were arrested by police and charged.
Police say that on the day the search warrants were executed, a victim assistance centre was set up to immediately provide food, shelter, medical attention, information and support services to the dozens of victims.
Nine vehicles, including three dilapidated buses used to take the workers to the work sites, were seized by police.
“This investigation has been a difficult one. To see the state of the workers’ living conditions, considering the promises that were made to them, was heartbreaking,” said York police Chief Jim MacSween. “The Spanish-speaking officers who assisted in the investigation were also deeply affected as they could see the reflections of their own families and friends in the faces of these hard-working people who were only trying to find a better life.”
In addition to York and Peel cops, the Canadian Border Services Agency, OPP and Toronto Police also took part in the massive probe.
Monserrat Monjaras, of Mississauga, is charged with five counts of trafficking in persons, participation in a criminal organization and material benefit resulting from trafficking in persons.
Facing similar and related charges are Jesus Navarrete Garcia, 51, of Toronto (18 charges), Tre Trinh, 45, of Vaughan (10 charges), Thi Him Huyen Vu, 49, of Vaughan (six charges), Hiram Amaury Martinez Rodriguez, 48, of East Gwillimbury (three charges), Juan de Jesus Rosales Gomez, 31, of no fixed address (one charge) and Luis Alberto Garcia Galvan, of no fixed address (one charge).
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They were led to Canada with the promise of opportunity & a better life. But the reality was deplorable living conditions & exploitation.
Through Project Norte, our investigators rescued 64 Mexican nationals from an international labour trafficking ring. https://t.co/p5giuQIYoi pic.twitter.com/LR3Gei5HCK
— York Regional Police (@YRP) March 3, 2023