Special Reports

Traffickers rely upon labor recruiters in faraway lands

A labor recruiter in his home country is the first contact a foreign worker is likely to have with a human trafficking scheme.

Recruiters often demand large up-front fees that can drive the workers thousands of dollars into debt even before they begin their first hour on the job.

That’s what happened to Ronny Marty, a hotel housekeeper, who went deep into debt to pay a recruiter in the Dominican Republic for a job cleaning hotel rooms in Kansas City.

But when Marty arrived in the United States earlier this year, he found that his job wasn’t what the recruiter had promised.

Marty’s employer, Crystal Management of Kansas City, shuffled him out of Missouri and allegedly required him to work illegally at a manufacturing plant in Alabama against the terms of his visa.

Using local recruiters — some of whom have other dubious connections — is a standard page from the labor trafficker’s playbook.

Kansas City court records showed that late last year, fugitive defendant Nodir Yunosov sent an e-mail to a Philippine recruiter, Romy Redelicia. Redelicia was lining up a fresh batch of 249 workers to clean Kansas City hotel rooms for Yunosov’s company, Crystal Management.

Redelicia, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, operates a labor recruiting service in the Philippines that matches workers with jobs as far away as Canada and Sudan.

But although his company is properly licensed in the Philippines, Redelicia has faced questions about improper recruiting before.

In 2006, he worked with the Blackwater USA security company, fending off news reports alleging that Blackwater had violated Philippine law by recruiting locals to provide security to American forces in Iraq.

Blackwater sent a few Philippine recruits to Afghanistan, which was completely legal, Redelicia said.

That same year, Redelicia helped incorporate a Philippine company for a Blackwater subsidiary that would have established a 25-acre jungle-training facility near Subic Bay. That project collapsed, however, when an influential member of the Philippine Senate threatened to investigate Blackwater’s recruiting practices.

Redelicia told The Kansas City Star that he runs an honest company and had no idea that he was recruiting workers for a U.S. company that would be charged with human trafficking.

“People such as Crystal Management Inc. … abused our professionalism and have damaged our company,” Redelicia said. “I just hope they will be made to pay for their misdeeds.”

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