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Feds indict 12 in scheme to traffic foreign workers in U.S.

Federal officials have accused 12 people and three companies of illegally luring foreign workers to the United States to work for low pay and live in substandard conditions, prosecutors announced today in Kansas City.

A federal grand jury indicted the defendants on racketeering, marriage fraud, identity theft and other counts in a scheme that involved forced labor trafficking and immigration violations in 14 states.

The enterprise — based out of companies headquartered in Kansas City, Mission and Overland Park — allegedly employed hundreds of illegal aliens as construction workers and as cleaners and housekeepers at hotels, resorts and casinos in Missouri, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wyoming.

“The indictment alleges that this criminal enterprise lured victims to the United States under the guise of legitimate jobs and a better life, only to treat them as modern-day slaves under the threat of deportation,” said James Gibbons, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a written statement.

The employees purportedly were required to pay exorbitant prices for apartments rented by the businesses, which “ensured that the workers did not make enough to repay their debt, purchase a plane ticket home or pay their own living expenses while in the United States,” according to a statement from prosecutors.

“Many of their employees allegedly were victims of human trafficking who were coerced to work in violation of the terms of their visas without proper pay and under the threat of deportation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Whitworth. “The defendants also required them to reside together in crowded, substandard and overpriced apartments.”

Read the full story at KansasCity.com

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