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Workers at L.A. recruiting company indicted in human-trafficking, forced-labor conspiracy

Employees and the owner of a Los Angeles-based labor-recruiting company were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Honolulu for allegedly engaging in a human-trafficking conspiracy involving Thai immigrants who were forced to work on farms, the FBI said.

The indictment alleges that Global Horizons Manpower Inc., located in Westwood, was involved in a scheme to coerce the labor and services of about 400 Thai nationals brought to the United States from May 2004 through September 2005 to work on farms across the country under a federal agricultural guest-worker program, the FBI said in a news release.

Named in the indictment are Mordechai Orian, Pranee Tubchumpol, Shane Germann and Sam Wongsesanit, all of Global Horizons Manpower.

Thai labor recruiters Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai were also charged with engaging in the conspiracy to commit forced labor, the FBI said.

Representatives of the company could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

The indictment alleges that the defendants enticed the Thai immigrants to come to the United States with false promises of lucrative jobs. The workers had their passports confiscated and were not paid the wages outlined in their contracts, the FBI said.

-- Robert J. Lopez

 
Comments () | Archives (7)

Are you kidding me, 400 Thai workers brought here to work on farms when we have hundreds of thousands of illegals here already.
What is wrong with our government?

Let's jail the company owners and managers and return the victim employees to their beloved homeland...

I love a happy ending...

It's good to see articles like this; to show that america is NOT guilty of "racial profiling" when it comes to MEXICAN illegal immigrants. REGARDLESS of the race of the illegal immigrants involved, if illegl immigration is involved, then the law needs to handle the situation. http://bit.ly/illegal-immigration

Named in the indictment are Mordechai Orian, Pranee Tubchumpol, Shane Germann and Sam Wongsesanit, all of Global Horizons Manpower.

WHY ARE WE IMPORTING CRIMINALS?

These victims weren't illegals. They came here on legal U.S. work visas, though the traffickers later allowed some of those visas to expire. The traffickers abused the U.S. government's own system and I believe they even got taxpayer money to do it.

big deal, what about the state governments who exploit hundreds of thousands of prisoners, by outsourcing them to private companies forcing them to work on farms for less than $.30 an hour..... we make a big deal about manpower, when the real issue is what is going on with California. besides who doesn't like thai food

How many more cases like this are out there, that might never be uncovered? The fact that this is the largest case to ever result in charges is a bit disturbing, but more disturbing is the thought of how many more instances of human trafficking occur in the United States, perhaps on a smaller scale, that are never reported or investigated?
I have been following this case closely, and as a US Immigration Lawyer based in Bangkok, Thailand, I can attest to the fact that the practice of trafficking laborers and other victims from South East Asia is rather common, although not as commonly reported on. It is indeed a form of slavery, and it is a growing concern that should be more at the forefront of the US national agenda. These Thai laborers are victims at the hand of an unethical company that skirted around the United States’ own immigration laws, and lied to the workers while doing so.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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