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'Inhuman': Orillia man charged in labour human trafficking case

'The victims’ fear of the accused was evident when officers arrived at the house,' OPP official says, noting Orillia man faces 21 human trafficking charges

An Orillia man is facing 21 human trafficking-related charges after he allegedly brought people to Orillia from Mexico to work for his company with promises of a better life and then forced them to live in squalor in two local homes.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Criminal Investigation Branch and Provincial Human Trafficking Intelligence-led Joint Forces Strategy worked together on the case over the past few months, officials revealed at a news conference Friday at the Orillia OPP detachment.

OPP Det.-Insp. Jane Conway, a major case manager, announced Friday that Juan ‘Jamie’ Rodriguez-Miranda, 59, was behind the labour human trafficking scheme. Officials would not elaborate on how he lured the victims here or how they came to Orillia.

“It began with a complaint,” Conway explained. “It ended with 15 victims being taken out of an inhuman situation.”

The OPP received a tip in November 2022 about the “potential labour abuse,” prompting various police agencies to investigate the allegations.

“Over four months, we uncovered that the victims were promised work at a subcontracting company in Orillia,” Conway said.

The company, called JJUL'S Enterprises Inc., promised victims work permits, training, housing and a good salary.

“The reality was quite opposite,” Conway said. “The victims were housed in two residences; the conditions of these residences were not what the victims had expected.”

At times, victims were housed in cramped, dirty areas of the homes, Conway noted. Victims were also expected to purchase their own mattresses, which were often shared with others.

Multiple victims shared a bedroom and often slept in shifts, Conway explained. 

“They were expected to buy their own food and, as many were not being paid, the food was limited. When food was available, a hot plate was used to make it,” she said.

“The place was dirty and unkempt,” Conway said. “Some of the victims were expected to clean the residence and assist with care for the accused’s family member.”

“The victims’ fear of the accused was evident when officers arrived at the house,” she said. “One of the victims said, ‘I don’t want to see him again.’ The victims were afraid of the accused but were also terrified to get help."

The accused allegedly threatened the victims, warning if they went to the police, they would be arrested or deported.

“He further threatened their families back home,” she said. “The fear of arrest, deportation or possible action toward family members is significant.”

The victims, aged 21 to 54, are now in a safe place, Conway said.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Kari Dart, who oversees the Investigations and Organized Crime Command of the OPP, said many people think of sex trafficking when it comes to human trafficking.

“Yet labour human trafficking remains a big concern in this province. It impacts us all, whether we see it or not. Sadly, it is happening,” he said.

“It is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labour through the use of force, fraud or coercion,” Dart said at Friday’s news conference.

“More detestable is that the ones who are most vulnerable in our society suffer,” he said. “This includes those looking to make a new life in Canada such as migrant workers and new immigrants. Indigenous women and girls, at-risk youth and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged are also vulnerable.”

As for Rodriguez-Miranda, as of March 15, he was charged with 11 counts of human trafficking of persons and 10 counts of material benefits in trafficking of persons. He remains in custody pending a bail hearing.

Conway credited the Ministry of Labour, the Mexican Consulate, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the Neighbourhood Organization, and other groups for assisting in the investigation.

Anyone who hired JJUL'S Enterprises Inc. in the past few months is asked to contact police by calling the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122.

“The information you police could be useful to investigators,” Conway said. “The investigation remains ongoing, and we expect there are more victims who have yet to come forward.”

Conway also encouraged other possible victims to contact the police or the Mexican Consulate for support.

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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