Human Traffickers Face Charges
An indictment was unsealed in Hawaii on Thursday in what the FBI has called the largest human-trafficking operation ever to result in charges in the United States.
According to CNN, six job recruiters have been indicted in federal court and are accused of luring about 400 people from Thailand with false promises of lucrative jobs.
Four of those charged worked for labor recruiting firm Global Horizons Manpower Inc., based in Beverly Hills, California, CNN reported. Two Thai-based recruiters also were charged. The operation allegedly began in May 2004.
Many of the imported workers wound up laboring on farms under substandard conditions, had their passports confiscated, and were threatened with deportation, CNN reported.
“The object of the conspiracy was to obtain cheap, compliant labor,” said the indictment, “indebted by the defendants’ recruitment fees, and to compel the workers’ labor and service through threats to have the workers arrested, deported, or sent back to Thailand.”
According to FBI Special Agent Tom Simon in Honolulu, Hawaii, there are more than a dozen Hawaii farms that utilized the labor of the alleged victims in this case.
”None of these farms have been criminally charged in this indictment. The FBI is attempting to learn the extent that these farms were aware of the forced labor conditions of its workers. With few exceptions, the farms have been cooperating with our investigation,” Simon said.
Other investigations are likely, Simon indicated. “There are more people living in forced labor today than when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” he said. “As long as this is true, the FBI will continue to pursue organizations and individuals involved in human trafficking.”