A Red Deer couple have been charged with human trafficking offences involving eight temporary foreign workers employed at Econolodge Inn & Suites in Gasoline Alley.
Insp. Darcy Fleury, officer in charge of the Alberta RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime in Calgary, said the police became involved in the case after being contacted by Alberta Employment Standards in June 2014.
“They had some concerns,” said Fleury. “They were receiving some information that there was a bunch of people being exploited in Red Deer at this Econolodge. We worked on this investigation and determined there was a situation and the charges that we laid resulted from that.”
After a 10-month investigation, Calgary Federal Serious Organized Crime officers charged the two suspects under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Police have not released any specifics in the case, including the countries where the temporary foreign workers came from.
Fleury said human traffickers exploit the most vulnerable people in society, such as migrant workers, and they prey on despair and desperation. He said the collaboration with Alberta Employment Standards was instrumental in the investigation.
Fleury could not release any specifics on the case but he said exploitation is the main piece when talking about human trafficking.
“That’s withholding documents,” he said. “Being forced to work in certain conditions. Things like that.”
Fleury said there are a few cases in the province under investigation but this may be the first alleged one in Red Deer area in the last five years.
Varinder Sidhu, 49, and Ravinder Sidhu, 46, both from Red Deer, are charged with organizing the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception or use or threat of force or coercion.
They are charged with employing a foreign national in a capacity in which the foreign national is not authorized under the act to be employed. They are charged with counsel, induce, aid or abet or attempts to counsel, aid or abet any person to directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this act.
Varinder and Ravinder Sidhu appear in Red Deer provincial court on May 26.