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Police in Canada free 43 Mexicans from near slavery

Police have freed 43 Mexicans working in near-slavery conditions after being tricked in immigration scams

Montreal (AFP)

Forty-three Mexicans duped in immigration scams have been freed after being forced to work for almost nothing in Canadian hotels, police said Monday.

The workers, mostly men, were lured to Canada by traffickers.

Once the Mexicans paid a large sum of money, they were promised they could study in Canada, or get work visas and permanent resident status.

But once in Canada, they were housed in "squalid conditions" in cities in central and eastern Ontario, and forced to work as housekeepers in hotels, Ontario Provincial Police said.

"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery," OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum told reporters in Barrie. "Exploitation is the key element of this offence."

Two cleaning company officials in the Barrie, Ontario area who worked with hotels there are suspected of involvement but so far have not been arrested.

Human trafficking is "modern-day slavery," said Barnum.

Barrie police chief Kimberly Greenwood added: "it is inconceivable that this was taking place in our community."

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