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June 1, 2005

Deaf slave trade suspects sent to US

From: Daily Telegraph, Australia - Jun 1, 2005

From correspondents in Mexico City

TWO deaf Mexicans accused of leading a slave labor ring that forced dozens of other deaf migrants to sell trinkets in the streets of New York had been extradited to the United States to face charges in the case, Mexico's government said.

Under the scheme in the mid-1990s, at least 100 deaf-mute migrants were smuggled into the US and promised well-paid jobs. Once there, they were forced to sell trinkets and hand over the cash. Their passports were taken and they faced physical abuse if they did not meet weekly quotas.

Mexico's government said Jose Paoletti and his son Renato Paoletti, both deaf, were extradited to face charges in a New York court.

The attorney general's office said the two men were the ringleaders and in charge of taking the money earned by their victims working seven days a week and more than 11 hours a day in New York's streets and subway stations.

Prosecutors say the slave labor ring pulled in more than $US1 million ($1.32 million) a year.

US authorities had tried to get Paoletti and his son sent to the United States to face charges since the scandal surfaced in 1997. The two men had been held at a Mexico City prison but the Foreign Ministry approved their extradition earlier this month.

In all, 20 people were charged in New York with operating a slave trade, alien smuggling, money laundering, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in the case. Most have been convicted of the charges.


Copyright 2005 Nationwide News