Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Labor trafficking more common that you might think

Rescue group: Labor trafficking more common that you might think

UPDATED 5:27 PM EDT May 23, 2014
Group: Human trafficking more common that you might think
LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A man who was arrested on human trafficking charges is out of jail after his wife posted a $50,000 bond.
An expert with Catholic Charities said what Ming Wen Chen is accused of doing is more common that you might think.     
Kentucky Restore and Rescue said 160 human trafficking victims have been identified in the commonwealth since 2008.
Metro police said the arrest of Chen culminated a year long investigation of the Golden Palace Restaurant on the Outer Loop near New Cut Road.  His wife was cited on charges of human trafficking.
Investigators contended several women and men were forced to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.
"Some of the workers didn't even know what city they were in," said Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Andre Bottoms.
Marissa Castellanos is the human trafficking program manager for Catholic Charities, which comes to aid of refugees.
"We are seeking that workers are frequently exploited by their employers, underpaid or not paid at all," said Castellanos.
It was business as usual during Friday's lunch hour at the Grand Palace.  Nora Lewis said she's a regular and hadn’t heard of the charges against the owner.
"This is the first time I've been here in a month and so I don't know. These girls here are just as kind as they can be," Lewis said.
According to police, workers were kept in the basement of the owners' home, in a subdivision off Old Third Street Road. The basement was divided into small cubicles with makeshift beds.  They shared one bathroom and their freedom was limited.
"From our investigation, at least the female workers, weren't allowed to come out of the basement unless they were accompanied by the owner of the restaurant," said Bottoms.
"What we are seeing is that labor trafficking crimes are probably happening as frequently as sex trafficking and commonly in labor trafficking there are more victims," Castellanos said.
Investigators would not say how many workers were involved or whether they were in the country legally.
Chen is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday.
For more information on ending human trafficking, click here. 

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