WA - Largest Human Trafficking Case In US History
Thai Laborers Lured To State In Largest Human Trafficking Case In US HistoryPosted: 7:25 am PDT September 3, 2010
HONOLULU -- Six recruiters were accused Thursday of luring 400 laborers from Thailand to the United States and forcing them to work, some in Washington state, according to a federal indictment that the FBI called the largest human-trafficking case ever charged in U.S. history.
The indictment alleges that the scheme was orchestrated by four employees of labor recruiting company Global Horizons Manpower Inc. and two Thailand-based recruiters. It said the recruiters lured the workers with false promises of lucrative jobs, then confiscated their passports, failed to honor their employment contracts and threatened to deport them.
Once the Thai laborers arrived in the United States starting in May 2004, they were put to work and have since been sent to sites in states including Hawaii, Washington, California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, according to attorneys and advocates.
Many laborers were initially taken to farms in Hawaii and Washington, where work conditions were the worst, said Chancee Martorell, executive director for the Los Angeles-based Thai Community Development Center, which represents 263 Thai workers who were brought to the U.S. by Global Horizons.
A woman who answered the phone at Global Horizons' Los Angeles office refused to take a message seeking comment Thursday.
The six defendants include Global Horizons President and CEO Mordechai Orian, 45; Director of International Relations Pranee Tubchumpol, 44; Hawaii regional supervisor Shane Germann, 41; and onsite field supervisor Sam Wongsesanit, 39. The Thailand recruiters were identified as Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai.
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