Latest modern slavery fight updates - FreedomUnited.org

Migrant labor trafficking operation behind a laundry service  

  • Published on
    August 13, 2023
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking
Hero Banner

A judge recently found the owners and managers of a Virginia based laundry business guilty of illegally smuggling 100 migrants over from El Salvador. Using threats of violence and deportation, the migrants were then forced into modern slavery, compelled by the owners and managers to work long hours, live in inhumane conditions and suffer abuse from their managers.   

Chain of exploitation  

María Luisa Paúl from The Washington Post reports:

Magnolia Cleaning Services was a Williamsburg-based business that cleaned linens for hotels and timeshares in the local area. In 2021 authorities opened a probe into their business after receiving a tip from an acquaintance of one of the victims. Once the probe began, investigators uncovered a chain of exploitation and a clear case of labor trafficking and modern slavery.  

Investigators reported:  

“Fear was common among the workers, who were often told they would be deported if they declined to work more hours… (a manager) told a 13-year-old girl that ‘her contacts in El Salvador would hurt and/or kill her upon her return to El Salvador if she refused to perform work tasks as directed,’”  

The chain of exploitation began with workers being told their “smuggling fees” were a debt they owed to the company. They were then charged rent to stay in a warehouse without air conditioning or heat and that lacked a kitchen or showers as well as forced to work 11-hour overnight shifts.    

They used fear to trap them 

By creating fake identification documents and false wage records the owners profited off the work of the immigrants and by using lies and threats, trapped them in modern slavery. The investigation and the indictment underline the prevalence and hidden nature of modern slavery not just in the U.S., but everywhere.  

Adriana Mirarchi, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, stated  

“Human trafficking can occur any time in any community and almost anywhere, it is a crime that often happens in plain sight, in plain view. And far too often, too many Virginians and Americans think: ‘It doesn’t happen here. Not my community.’ Tragically, it does.” 

Survivors assisted investigators with the probe and have since been connected to support resources including a T visa which is provided to victims of human trafficking and is a pathway to citizenship. As part of the judgement the owners are required to forfeit more than $3.9 million dollars of their profits with an undisclosed amount to be paid to the survivors.  

Take action  

The blame for modern slavery isn’t on traffickers like the Virginia laundry owners alone. Vulnerabilities to modern slavery are perpetuated by the systems in place around the world and often boil down to a political choice. Global migration systems need an immediate overhaul, join us in calling for safe migration for all to prevent and protect against human trafficking!  

Subscribe

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
selma browde
selma browde
9 months ago

Those of us living in comfort find it hard to hear of the inhuman behaviour of so many world wide including modern slavery and many other horrendous treatment of workers, migrants and in even citizens.
What can ordinary people do who have the quality of empathy and intolerance of abuse that seems is increasing in the world of today? Homo Sapiens is a flawed species, but there must be a way that some international body can harness enough support to DO something with the sup

This week

European cocaine gangs using forced labor to exploit children

A recent investigation by The Guardian found the continent’s £10bn appetite for cocaine has led to forced child labor on an equally massive scale. Increasingly powerful drug cartels are forcing hundreds, possibly thousands, of unaccompanied child migrants to work as drug sellers on European streets. They do this to meet the growing demand for cocaine in cities including Paris and Brussels. Industrial scale exploitation The increase in refugees

| Tuesday June 11, 2024

Read more