Los Angeles-based firm suspected of being involved in human trafficking: FBI

11:33, September 04, 2010      

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A federal grand jury in Honolulu have indicted three members of Los Angeles-based Global Horizons Manpower Inc. for engaging in a human trafficking conspiracy involving about 400 Thai farm workers, authorities said on Friday.

Three other people were also indicted in the case, according the FBI.

The FBI identified the defendants as Mordechai Orian, an Israeli national; Pranee Tubchumpol, Shane Germann, and Sam Wongsesanit, of Global Horizons Manpower Inc.; and Thai labor recruiters Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai.

The indictment alleges the six defendants conspired and devised a scheme to entice approximately 400 Thai nationals to come to the United States between May 2004 and September 2005 with false promises of lucrative jobs.

The Thai nationals were told they'd be working on farms across the country under the U.S. federal agricultural guest worker program. Instead they were assigned to farms in Hawaii and Washington and coerced to stay there by threats of serious economic harm, according to the FBI.

The defendants arranged for the workers to pay high recruitment fees financed by debts secured with the workers' family property and homes, the FBI said, adding that the defendants received significant portions of the recruitment fees.

After the workers arrived in the United States, the defendants confiscated their passports and failed to honor the employment contracts. The defendants kept the victims working by threatening to send them back to Thailand, knowing they would face serious economic harm, the FBI said.

The indictment also alleges the defendants confined a group of Thai guest workers at a Maui pineapple plantation, and demanded an additional fee of 3,750 dollars each to keep their jobs with Global Horizons.

The workers who refused to pay the additional fees were sent home to Thailand with unpaid debts, subjecting them to the risk of losing their family homes and land.

The case was investigated by the Honolulu Division of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Hawaii.

Officials with Global Horizons Manpower Inc. could not be reached for comment.



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