The West Vancouver woman accused of keeping a young African migrant as a domestic slave is likely not in Canada, Mounties say.

Mumtaz Ladha, 55, is charged with human trafficking and smuggling for allegedly luring a 21-year-old woman into the country with promises of a job at a hair salon. Instead, police say the victim was forced to perform unpaid labour for Ladha 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

RCMP Const. Michael McLaughlin told that Ladha has not been arrested.

"There is a very good chance she's out of the country," he said, but declined to say where police believe she is.

Police say Ladha hid the young worker's passport and led her to believe she had no recourse but to continue enduring the harsh treatment. She was allegedly forced to hand-wash her boss's clothing and wasn't allowed to sleep until everyone in the house was already in bed.

After about a year of the suspected abuse, the victim escaped to a women's shelter in 2009, and her story spurred an investigation by the RCMP's human-trafficking division. Charges were approved against Ladha last week.

The smuggling charge alone can carry a fine of up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison for a first offence.

The victim is receiving support from social assistance agencies. McLaughlin says she hasn't decided whether she will try to stay in Canada.

Ladha is the second-ever person to be charged with human trafficking in British Columbia.