OGDEN – The Utah Attorney General’s Office SECURE Strike force (Special Enforcement of Crimes Against Undocumented Residents), working closely with the Mexican Consulate and Asian Association of Utah, arrested the owner/operator of Midway West Amusements, Inc. and charged him with multiple Human Trafficking-related crimes. Law enforcement was alerted that the Company was illegally inducing more than 20 Mexican Nationals to work for the Company’s travelling carnival. All the workers were legally in the United States, with H2B Visas and Passports that had been kept from them to keep them from leaving the group. All the victims are safe tonight, under the supervision of the Mexican Consulate.
The Attorney General’s office is charging Jordan Jensen of Gilbert, AZ (DOB 3/11/1990) with:
- 3 counts Human Trafficking (2nd degree felony)
- 9 counts Possession of Another’s Identity Documents (3rd degree felony)
You can read the formal charges here.
The case was brought to light by two Mexican nationals, who escaped the Company, contacted the Mexican Consulate, and provided information that was useful to law enforcement. The Victims say Midway West Amusements kept their Visas and Passports from them to prevent the people from leaving; essentially holding their legal status in the United States hostage.
“These laborers were living and working in inhumane conditions that could be dangerous to their health or even their lives. They were paid a paltry amount and had costs deducted on top of that,” said Utah AG Sean D. Reyes. “By withholding their H2B Visas, Midway West Amusements was coercing them to work under these conditions. That is a classic case of human trafficking or indentured servitude.
Reyes continued: “At the scene of the warrants, the laborers were afraid they had done something wrong. We assured them they had not. Many of these men remind me of my own father’s experience when he came to this country. They are easily exploited. Not because they are weak or uneducated. They are just desperate to provide for their families and too often victimized.”
Reyes added: “We are very grateful to all those who are assisting in this case: The Mexican Consulate, The Asian Association of Utah, Polaris (the human trafficking hotline), the Ogden Police Department, and the UTIP Task Force, (Utah Trafficking in Persons). Those relationships played an important role in a successful search warrant, allow us to provide services to the individuals involved, and will hopefully bring justice to the alleged perpetrators.”
The Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City recognizes the rapid intervention of the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force.
“We are outraged by the forced labor conditions Mexican temporary workers with H2B visas were subjected to by this company and are currently supporting the victims with the aid of our partners: Utah Legal Services and the Asian Association of Utah”, said Jose Borjon, Consul of Mexico in Salt Lake City.
“It is only with the collaboration between our offices that we can prevent these abuses,” Mr. Borjon continued. “We encourage all of those who are in the same situation to denounce it. Do not be afraid, individuals and labor rights must be protected, and we all must fight human trafficking.”