OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Carnival owner faces multiple counts of human trafficking and unlawful possession of another person’s identity after two victims manage to escape and inform the police on Friday.
According to the Utah Attorney General’s Office SECURE Strike force, the local Mexican Consulate and the Asian Association of Utah, owner and operator of Midway West Amusements, Inc., Jordan Nathaniel Jensen, has been arrested after keeping several employees against their will and exploit them for monetary gain.
âLaw enforcement has been alerted that the company is illegally inducing more than 20 Mexican nationals to work for the company’s traveling carnival. All workers were legally in the United States with visas and H2B passports which had been refused to them to prevent them from leaving the group, indicates the statement of probable cause.
Government officials say all victims are safe tonight, under the supervision of the Mexican consulate.
Jordan Nathaniel Jensen, 31, is currently facing three counts of human trafficking, a 2nd degree felony, and nine counts of possessing identity documents of others, a 3rd degree felony.
According to the Utah attorney general, the case was discovered by two Mexican nationals who managed to escape from the company. Officials say the escapees then contacted the Mexican consulate and provided crucial information useful to law enforcement.
The victims say: âMidway West Amusements hid their visas and passports from them to prevent the workers from leaving; essentially holding their legal status hostage in the United States.
âThese workers lived and worked in inhumane conditions which could be dangerous to their health or even their lives. They were paid a pittance and fees were deducted on top of that, âshares Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. âBy withholding their H2A visas, Midway West Amusements was forcing them to work under these conditions. This is a classic case of human trafficking or indentured servitude.
âAt the places of the warrants, the workers were afraid of having done something wrong. We have assured them that it is not. Many of these men remind me of my own father’s experience when he came to this country. They are easily exploitable. Not because they are weak or uneducated. They are desperate to provide for their families and are too often victimized, âcontinues Reyes.
“We are outraged by the conditions of forced labor to which Mexican temporary workers with H2B visas have been subjected by this company and are currently supporting the victims with the help of our partners: Utah Legal Services and the Asian Association of Utah”, remarks JosÃ© Borjon, consul. from Mexico to Salt Lake City.
“It is only with collaboration between our offices that we can prevent these abuses,” Borjon concludes. âWe encourage all those in the same situation to report it. Have no fear, human and labor rights must be protected and we must all fight against human trafficking.