For more than a year and a half, three people accused of being members of a Hungarian crime family eluded authorities as their alleged associates were rounded up, prosecuted and convicted of running the largest human trafficking ring in Canadian history.
But on Tuesday, investigators tracked them down to a north Toronto high-rise where they were arrested without incident.
Gizella Domotor, 43, her husband, Gyozo Papai, 42, and Anna Lukacs, 37, are being held by police pending a bail hearing.
RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency investigators visited two addresses searching for the suspects Tuesday. All three, it turned out, were staying with friends at the same apartment on Lawrence Avenue West, police said. They are alleged to have been part of what police dubbed the Domotor criminal organization, a gang that originated in Papa, a town in western Hungary.
Starting in the late 1990s, some of its members moved to Hamilton. There, some of them were convicted of running criminal enterprises, including the human trafficking operation, and a cheque fraud scheme. The trafficking ring involved luring unemployed Hungarians to Canada, then forcing them to work long hours for no pay on construction sites.
In court, lawyers described the Domotor organization as a pyramid: At the top was Ferenc Domotor, 50, a charismatic church-going stucco contractor; the second-in-command was his younger brother, Gyula Domotor. The mid-level was made up of various members of their extended family, including siblings, cousins and in-laws. At the bottom of the organization were enforcers and other "foot soldiers" – mostly young Hungarian men.
Court documents filed earlier this year allege that Gizella Domotor initially recruited Tibor Csuti, now 58, on the street in Hungary to fix a door at her house. By the prosecution's account, she then brought him to Canada in April 2008 with the promise of a job, regular pay, his own home and a better life.
Instead, he was used as a household servant by Gyula Domotor, confined to a basement and not paid. On one occasion, court filings said, Gyula Domotor threatened to "smash Mr. Csuti's head." The family referred to him as its csicskas – a slave.
Gizella Domotor was also accused of providing documentation to bring another trafficking victim, 22-year-old Sandor German, to Canada.
The RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency launched an investigation, dubbed Project Opapa, into the group. The probe led to the arrests of Ferenc Domotor and most of his associates in late 2010.
Earlier this year, several key players in the family pleaded guilty. Eight were convicted of conspiracy to traffic in persons and more were found guilty of participating in a criminal organization. Ferenc Domotor was sentenced to nine years in prison, the toughest penalty ever meted out in Canada for human trafficking. But Gizella Domotor, Ferenc Domotor's younger sister, eluded police, who obtained a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest. Court documents named other suspected members of the Domotor criminal organization that have not been tracked down, but the three arrested Tuesday are believed to be the only ones still in Canada.