23 criminal charges laid in Ottawa human trafficking ring

An Ontario Provincial Police logo is shown during a press conference in Barrie, Ont., Wednesday, April 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Provincial Police has arrested four young adults from Ottawa and laid 23 criminal charges related to human trafficking.

Police say the ten-month investigation began in October 2022, where OPP was made aware of a young girl being human trafficked across Ontario and Quebec.

Evidence revealed that the victim had been sexually exploited since 2019. The victim is now in a place of safety.

The investigation was conducted by the Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-led Joint Forces Strategy (IJFS), OPP’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, the Ottawa Police Service, the Kingston Police Service and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service. 

Police believe there could be other victims.

Devin Ronald Jessy Huff, 26-years-old from Ottawa, has been charged with:

  •  Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, as per Section 117.01(1);
  •  Sexual Assault, as per Section 271;
  •  Assault, as per Section 266;
  •  Procuring, as per Section 286.3 (1), two counts;
  •  Traffic in Persons, as per Section 279.01;
  •  Material Benefit Resulting from Trafficking in Persons, as per Section 279.02(1);
  •  Material Benefit from Sexual Services, as per Section 286.2(1);
  •  Advertising Sexual Services, as per Section 286.4 C.C;
  •  Possession of a Prohibited device or ammunition, as per Section 92(2); and,
  •  Possession of a Schedule I substance for the Purpose of Trafficking, Section 5(2) CDSA.

Huff remains in custody following a bail hearing.

Hayl Collis, 22-years-old from Vanier, has been charged with:

  •  Traffic in Persons, as per Section 279.01;
  •  Material Benefit Resulting from Trafficking in Persons, as per Section 279.02(1);
  •  Material Benefit from Sexual Services, as per Section 286.2(1);
  •  Procuring, as per Section 286.3 (1); and,
  •  Advertising Sexual Services, as per Section 286.4.

Collis remains in custody following a bail hearing.

Alexia Zoe Simard, 26-years-old from Ottawa, has been charged with:

  •  Traffic in Persons, as per Section 279.01;
  •  Procuring, as per Section 286.3(1), and;
  •  Advertising Sexual Services, as per Section 286.4.

Simard has been released from custody. She is scheduled to appear on December 12, 2023, at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa.

Haileigh Brooke Devlin, 23-years-old from Ottawa, has been charged with:

  •  Traffic in Persons, as per Section 279.01;
  •  Material Benefit Resulting from Trafficking in Persons, as per Section 279.02(1);
  •  Material Benefit from Sexual Services, as per Section 286.2(1), and;
  •  Procuring, as per Section 286.3 (1).

Devlin has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa on Dec. 12.

Police are urging anyone with any additional information to contact the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122 or their local police.

The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-833-900-1010. Human trafficking resources are available at canadiancentretoendhumantrafficking.ca

Police arrested a fourth person wanted in connection with a human trafficking investigation dubbed Project Chameleon.

Earlier this month, police raided an Innisfil property at Yonge Street and the 7th Line on Nov. 1 and said they seized $30,000 worth of drugs and arrested three individuals after receiving a tip that a female was being held for sexual services.

Tyrone Aaron DIAS, 38, of Innisfil (L), Jashyna SINGH, 29, of Brampton (C), and Royden REIS, 38, of Barrie (R), face charges in connection with a human trafficking investigation. (Source: South Simcoe Police Services)

Police say three female victims were rescued from the Innisfil residence.

A second search warrant was carried out in Newmarket.

On Monday, police confirmed 37-year-old Burnel Hopkinson surrendered himself to police without incident.

Police had issued an arrest warrant for the capture of Hopkinson following the Innisfil raid.

He faces charges of human trafficking, material benefit from the trafficking of persons, material benefit from sexual services, advertising sexual services, and sexual assault, and has been held in police custody pending a bail hearing.

The allegations against each of the accused have not been tested in court.

Accused human trafficker Kevin Kielty has taken a guilty plea in a Barrie courtroom on Tuesday, admitting to illegally employing four foreign nationals from Mexico between 2017 and 2019 under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

“Mr. Kielty continues to deny any allegation of mistreatment of those people,” said Carson Hurley, Kielty’s lawyer.

Kielty’s plea deal is a victory for the defence, with all criminal charges, including human trafficking, against the former Barrie man and his wife, Patricia Zuniga-Rojas, being stayed.

Zuniga-Rojas’ lawyer, Peter Thorning, said she never should have been charged. “And had there been a trial, there’s no doubt she would’ve been acquitted,” he said outside the Barrie courthouse.

Kielty, Zuniga-Rojas and her two daughters, Ashley and Patty Camacho Zuniga, initially faced 27 charges each, including the alleged human labour trafficking of 48 Mexican nationals who claimed in 2019 that they were tricked into working for a cleaning company that used them as cheap labour at local resorts and hotels.

In 2019, CTV News reported that when Canada Border Services, the OPP and Barrie police announced the bust, some of the workers claimed they were paid $50 a month and lived in terrible conditions in Barrie and Wasaga Beach.

Police referred to the workers from Mexico as “modern-day slaves” who were lured to Canada with promises of educational opportunities and good-paying jobs.

The four counts Kielty pleaded guilty to on Tuesday carried a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment.

He was ordered to serve a conditional sentence of 18 months, which includes house arrest following a joint submission by the Crown and the defence.

Kielty pleading guilty to the regulatory charges means his wife and her daughters – who faced the prospect of deportation had Zuniga-Rojas been convicted- can remain in Canada.

Charges against Zuniga-Rojas’ daughters were dropped before the trial dates were set.

The court heard Kielty ran RTL Services, a cleaning company with an office in Barrie, out of which police said illegal workers were supplied to clean local hotels and resorts in Collingwood and the Blue Mountains.

The defence told the court Kielty was very remorseful for his actions.

“It’s certainly a relief to have it resolved today. But they’ve been suffering for a long time, and they’re happy to be putting it all behind them,” said Hurley.

Kielty was also ordered to pay the four foreign workers more than $14,000 that was owed to them as part of his sentence.

Police say they rescued 43 ‘modern-day slaves’ after executing labour human trafficking raids in Barrie and Wasaga Beach last week.

Officers with the OPP said Monday at a press conference that the alleged victims range in age between 20 and 46 and were forced to work as cleaners at hotels and vacation properties.

According to police, they were lured to Canada from Mexico with the promise of working visas, education and permanent residency.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum says they were living in “squalid” conditions and made to pay large sums of money to their alleged traffickers, while sometimes making as little as $50 per month for their work.

There is no word on criminal charges at this time.

Police say the investigation began last year and is continuing.

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