Skip to main content

Charges stayed against former Barrie man accused of human trafficking

Share

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.

Patricia Zuniga-Rojas, Kevin Kielty, Pattie Camacho Zuniga, and Ashley Camacho outside the courthouse in Barrie, Ont., on Aug. 28, 2023. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides)

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.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

BREAKING

BREAKING Former prime minister Brian Mulroney dies at 84

Former Canadian prime minister and Conservative stalwart Brian Mulroney has died at age 84. Over his impressive career, the passionate and ambitious politician, businessman, husband, father, and grandfather left an unmistakable mark on the country.

Stay Connected