Twenty members of a Hungarian human trafficking ring that brought people from eastern Europe with promises of a better life in Canada have been deported, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Tuesday.
He said the victims were forced to work illegally, live in deplorable conditions without adequate food, and were intimidated or attacked repeatedly.
"The removal of these foreign criminals convicted of human trafficking demonstrates how our government is keeping Canadians safe," Blaney said during a news conference in Hamilton, where the gang had operated.
The RCMP has previously said the victims were mostly poor Hungarians who were duped into coming to Canada and forced to work for free in a case of "modern-day slavery."
Blaney said 22 members of the Domotor-Kolompar ring have been convicted of human trafficking charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, and all but two have been deported to Hungary.
"Our government will continue to take strong action to address human trafficking in all its forms," he said.
The Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP Hamilton-Niagara Detachment and local police were all involved in the years-long investigation dubbed Project OPAPA.
"We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us rid the scourge of human trafficking in Hamilton and Ancaster," said David Sweet, MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.
"There is no doubt that today is a day when justice has been served."
The deportations comes two years after the government toughened measures to prevent human trafficking and prosecute perpetrators.