Sydney man and woman charged in human trafficking and servitude investigation

A man in a black shirt is led to a car by two police officers.

Editor’s Note: Footage of the arrests is available via Hightail.

A 59-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman have been charged as part of an Australian Federal Police investigation into allegations of human trafficking and servitude at a cake business in Western Sydney.

The Fair Work Ombudsman reported an allegation of mistreatment of a worker at the business to the Australian Federal Police in March 2018.

The AFP Eastern Command Human Trafficking Team began Operation Silverbolt to investigate the circumstances surrounding the victim’s life and employment in Australia. AFP officers conducted an extensive investigation to gather witness statements and evidence of the alleged exploitation and mistreatment by the operators of the cake business.

Human Trafficking investigators executed search warrants at a home in Denham Court and business premises in Bonnyrigg, Liverpool and Campbelltown on Thursday (11 November 2021).

Police seized three mobile phones and multiple financial documents, and arrested a man and woman, aged 59 and 48.

The 48-year-old woman from Denham Court was charged with conducting a business involving the servitude of another person, contrary to section 270.5(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

The 59-year-old man from Denham Court was also charged with conducting a business involving the servitude of another person.

He was additionally charged with trafficking in persons – entry into Australia – deception as to sexual services, exploitation or confiscation, contrary to section 271.2(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment.

Police will allege that the man was verbally abusive to the victim. He allegedly threatened the victim with deportation for not working hard enough, monitored the victim’s phone calls to family offshore and took away the victim’s passport.

The victim was allegedly isolated from the community, was not given a steady wage or paid for the amount of hours worked, and was allegedly reliant on the man and woman for food.

The man and woman received bail under strict conditions and are scheduled to appear in Downing Centre Local Court on 14 December 2021.

AFP Detective Inspector Jeremy Staunton, said human trafficking and slavery-like offences occur in Australia and the AFP takes allegations of human trafficking and exploitation very seriously.

“For the financial year 2020/2021, the AFP received 224 reports of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences. So far this financial year the AFP has received 111 reports,” said Detective Inspector Staunton.

“Human Trafficking investigators work tirelessly to help victims struggling through atrocious slavery-like situations and to ensure they are removed from harmful situations, and their abusers face the full extent of the law in Australia.”

If you are at risk of modern slavery or know someone who may be at risk, contact Anti-Slavery Australia on (02) 9514 8115 for free and confidential legal advice or the Australian Red Cross on (03) 9345 1800. Anyone with information on human trafficking occurring in Australia can report it to the AFP on 131 AFP (237) or via the AFP website.

For more information on human trafficking, including the signs a person may be at risked of being trafficked, visit the Human trafficking page.

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