Twelve defendants, including eight Uzbekistan nationals, have been charged in a 45-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on May 6, 2009, on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges related to labor racketeering, forced labor trafficking and immigration and other violations in 14 states.
Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev, 30, Nodir Yunusov, 22, Rustamjon Shukurov, 21, citizens of Uzbekistan residing in Mission, Kan.; Ilkham Fazilov, 44, Nodirbek Abdoollayev, 27, both citizens of Uzbekistan residing in Kansas City, Mo.; Viorel Simon, 27, Alexandru Frumasache, 23, both citizens of Moldova residing in Kansas City, Kan.; Kristin Dougherty, 49, of Ellisville, Mo.; Andrew Cole, 53, of St. Charles, Mo.; Abdukakhar Azizkhodjaev, 49, a citizen of Uzbekistan residing in Panama City, Fla.; and Sandjar Agzamov, 27, and Jakhongir Kakhkharov, 29, both citizens of Uzbekistan who recently left the United States and are living abroad; as well as three companies owned or controlled by Askarkhodjaev – Giant Labor Solutions LLC, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Crystal Management Inc, headquartered in Mission, Kan., and Five Star Cleaning LLC, headquartered in Overland Park, Kan. – were charged in the indictment made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of the defendants.
The RICO indictment alleges that, since January 2001, Askarkhodjaev has been the leader of a criminal enterprise and directed the rest of the co-defendants in carrying out unlawful activities to further the enterprise. Among the criminal acts alleged in a pattern of racketeering activity are forced labor trafficking, identity theft, harboring illegal aliens, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, transporting illegal aliens, visa fraud, extortion, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, wire fraud and inducing the illegal entry of foreign nationals. Many of the workers were employed at hotels in the Kansas City area and in Branson, Mo.
According to the indictment, Askarkhodjaev owned and operated a labor leasing company, Giant Labor Solutions, in Kansas City, Mo.. Through Giant Labor and a dozen other businesses that he associated with or controlled as part of the alleged criminal enterprise, Askarkhodjaev allegedly secured fraudulent labor leasing contracts from clients in the hotel/resort, casino and construction industries in Missouri, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wyoming. The criminal enterprise allegedly used illegal aliens to fulfill labor contracts for housekeeping, cleaning services and other duties. The workforce was predominately comprised of foreign nationals, the indictment says, who either entered the United States illegally, overstayed their visas, or did not have legal authorization to reside or work in their specific locations during their term of employment.
The federal indictment also alleges that Askarkhodjaev, Yunusov, Shukurov, Fazilov, Simon, Cole and Frumusache aided and abetted each other to obtain the labor and services of a person by means of serious harm and threats of serious harm, and by means of the abuse and threatened abuse of law and legal process.
According to the indictment, the enterprise required the foreign nationals to work where the enterprise assigned them. However, the enterprise threatened to cancel the immigration status of foreign nationals who refused to work as directed by the enterprise. The enterprise allegedly charged the foreign nationals numerous fees. It further profited, the indictment says, by requiring the foreign national workers to reside in apartments it exclusively secured, controlled and for which it charged exorbitant rents. According to the indictment, the enterprise often threatened to cancel the immigration status of foreign nationals who requested permission to seek alternative housing,
Allegedly, these fees and expenses, combined with the lack of payment for hours worked, underpayment for hours worked and lack of work assignments, often resulted in the foreign national workers receiving a paycheck with negative earnings. The enterprise allegedly ensured that the workers did not make enough to repay their debt, to purchase a plane ticket home, or pay for their own living expenses while in the United States. It further controlled the foreign national workers in the Kansas City area by not allowing them to receive mail, the indictment says.
RICO is a federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization or enterprise. The charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William L. Meiners and Cynthia L. Cordes and Civil Rights Division Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit Trial Attorney Jim Felte. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Department of Revenue – Criminal Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Independence, Mo., Police Department in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.