Wednesday, May 27, 2009

12 charged in massive labor trafficking scheme based in KC

The Kansas City Star

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.”

Those named in the indictment, which a grand jury returned in secret on May 6, were: Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev, 30, Nodir Yunusov, 22, Rustamjon Shukurov, 21, citizens of Uzbekistan living in Mission; Ilkham Fazilov, 44, Nodirbek Abdoollayev, 27, both citizens of Uzbekistan living in Kansas City; Viorel Simon, 27, Alexandru Frumasache , 23, both citizens of Moldova living in Kansas City, Kan.; Kristin Dougherty, 49, of Ellisville, Mo.; Andrew Cole, 53, of St. Charles, Mo.; Abdukakhar Azizkhodjaev, 49, a citizen of Uzbekistan living in Panama City, Fla.; and Sandjar Agzamov, 27, and Jakhongir Kakhkharov, 29, both citizens of Uzbekistan who recently left the U.S.

Three companies controlled by Askarkhodjaev also were charged: Giant Labor Solutions, LLC, headquartered in Kansas City; Crystal Management, Inc., in Mission; and Five Star Cleaning, LLC, in Overland Park.

Authorities had arrested eight of the 12 defendants as of this morning, according to Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

To contact Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send e-mail to
Posted on Wed, May. 27, 2009 10:50 AM

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