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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brothers Sentenced To 20 Years For Running Violent Human Trafficking Enterprise

PHILADELPHIA – Mykhaylo Botsvynyuk, 38, and Yaroslav Churuk, 48, both of Ukraine, were each sentenced today to 20 years in prison for their roles in a human trafficking enterprise.  The brothers were convicted at trial, on February 24, 2015, of conspiracy to violate RICO, in relation to several predicate offenses in furtherance of the conspiracy, including: a) peonage; b) involuntary servitude; c) extortion and attempted extortion; d) and several immigration offenses, including bringing aliens into the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry, encouraging or inducing illegal entry of aliens, transporting aliens, and harboring illegal aliens for purposes of financial gain.  At the 2015 trial, the government presented the testimony of seven victims of trafficking and several family member victims from Ukraine who received extortionate threats of physical harm from other members of and associates of the enterprise.


From the Fall of 2000 through the Spring of 2007, members of the enterprise lured Ukrainian nationals into the United States with promises of good-paying jobs, room and board, and the opportunity to live and work in the United States to earn up to $500 per month and/or approximately $10,000 after three years’ work. The criminal organization provided the smuggled workers with all of the necessary travel documents and costs, including false travel documents, plane and/or bus tickets, hotel money, cash for travel expenses, visas to Mexico, and even provided attorneys to assist those detained by U.S. immigration authorities upon crossing the Mexico/U.S. border. Once in the United States, the smuggled workers were divided up and each assigned to work for defendant Mykhaylo Botsvynyuk, Omelyan Botsvynyuk, Yaroslav Churuk or Stepan Botsvynyuk.  Each brother had a “crew” of workers that were placed in various cities to do nighttime labor in large retail stores cleaning and waxing floors. The evidence at trial established that the Botsvynyuk brothers instituted a reign of terror and a climate of fear to maintain their workforce and prevent them from escaping. The defendant participated in the physical abuse and beatings of some of the workers.  The violence that enterprise members instituted against the victims included rape of female workers, beatings, kicks, slaps and punches against the male workers. The victims were not paid for their work and received a paltry stipend for food.


In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond ordered each to: serve three years of supervised release, pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $288,272, and pay a $100 special assessment.


Omelyan and Stepan Botsvynyuk were convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to life plus 20 years, and 20 years in prison, respectively. 


The case was investigated by the Joint FBI Organized Crime/ICE Human Trafficking Alien Smuggling Task Force.  Assistance was provided by Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Toronto Police Department, German National Police, Berlin State Police, Ukraine Security Service, US National Central Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, and INTERPOL.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel A. Velez and Michelle Morgan.

Human Trafficking
Updated February 25, 2016