Two Facing Prison Time In Iowa Labor Trafficking Case

Judge office.

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(Des Moines, IA) -- Two people are pleading guilty in an Iowa labor trafficking case. The two individuals, who have dual U-S and Micronesia citizenship, were indicted for recruiting two young men from Micronesia to work in a meat processing plant. The pair admitted taking the victims' passports and getting meatpacking jobs for them in Ottumwa. Investigators say the victim's passports and paychecks were seized, except for 20-dollars per week. Investigators say the victims were kept isolated and communication with family was controlled and monitored.

Defendants 46-year-old Nesly Mwarecheong, and 51-year-old Bertino Weires, pleaded guilty in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, to two counts of unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of trafficking or forced labor.

Investigators say the defendants created a situation where the victims either had to continue complying with the defendants’ demands or risk being homeless and without a means of supporting themselves in a foreign country where they did not speak the language and had no means of returning home.

“These defendants used the allure of jobs in the United States to entice the victims, and then exploited them and profited off their hard work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice remains committed to partnering with federal, state and local officials to investigate and prosecute human trafficking offenses, which have no place in our society.”

The defendants will be sentenced in February. They face up to five years in prison and a 250-thousand dollar fine.

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