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Fri June 5, 2009
Wyoming hotel workers were part of human trafficking network
By Molly Messick
Douglas, Wy – Eighteen workers from hotels in Douglas and Casper are under protective custody in Kansas City amid federal charges of human trafficking. None of the Wyoming hotels is accused of wrongdoing. A 45-count indictment charges Giant Labor Solutions and two other companies with turning foreign contract workers into "modern-day slaves." Charlie Hegglund of the Plains Restaurant and Motel in Douglas employed a number of workers through Giant Labor Solutions. He says the company gave the workers few options.
"If they didn't like it, you know, they'd send them back - they'd have them deported. So it wasn't like they had free will. It was like, "Either do what we tell you to do or we won't renew your visa."
The U.S. Attorney's office says Giant brought the workers to the U.S. on fraudulent visas. Hegglund says he paid an hourly wage of 11.95 to the workers who came through Giant. He says the company kept a third of that, and also charged workers for housing and transportation.