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Fri May 14, 2021, 10:55 AM

Chinese nationals victims in labor trafficking pot bust

17 people were unknowingly working in illegal marijuana operation in Shiprock

FARMINGTON – It has been more than seven months since 17 Chinese nationals, identified by the New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender to be human labor trafficking victims, were arrested in connection with a marijuana bust in Shiprock, and despite having their cases dropped, they have not found life to be any easier.

On Oct. 8, the Farmington Police Department was called to the Travel Inn Motel for complaints of a strong marijuana odor. When police arrived, they found 2,000 pounds of marijuana worth $3 million to $10 million depending on the quality and street value, and 17 Chinese nationals trimming away, seemingly without worry they were in the presence of law enforcement. All 17 were arrested.

In summer 2020, the 17 people were brought to the Shiprock area from Monterey Park, California, the largest Chinatown in the United States, with a promise of $200 a day and room and board to “cut flowers.”

Instead, they were arrested and each faced 10 to 13 years in prison, said Lynn Sanchez, program director for human trafficking aftercare for The Life Link and co-chairwoman of the New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force.

Once group members were brought to the area, they were set up in hotel rooms at the Travel Inn Motel. Sanchez said the person responsible for the operation usually doesn’t want a money trail leading to him or her, so the people running the operation convinced one of the Chinese men to put the hotel rooms in his name. https://www.the-journal.com/articles/chinese-nationals-victims-in-labor-trafficking-pot-bust/?fbclid=IwAR3-Hk-mM8dg167h0hXAnw0g5Agezv4V5pQRaAzC0euPkFjityRQS7-3Ojg

Long story, short, charges were dropped and no one has been brought to justice, yet.

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