Archive for the ‘trafficking’ Category

Aruba police pursue new evidence in Holloway case

November 19, 2008

A new witness has come forward in the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba, and prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking more evidence against the only remaining suspect.

By MIKE MELIA, Associated Press Writer

A woman told Dutch police this month that Joran van der Sloot confessed to her years ago that he was involved in Holloway’s disappearance, according to Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the Aruba Prosecutors’ Office.

Suspect in Holloway case allegedly involved in sex trade industry 
Joran Van der Sloot and Natalee Holloway

But the Dutch Caribbean island’s chief prosecutor said authorities still lack proof they need to convict Van der Sloot, who has been arrested twice and released for lack of evidence.

“After three years of investigating, it is very, very difficult to find that evidence,” prosecutor Hans Mos told The Associated Press. “We have to be realistic.”

Holloway, an 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was last seen in May 2005 leaving a bar in the Aruban capital Oranjestad with Van der Sloot on the final night of a high school graduation trip to the island. Extensive searches have found no trace of her.

Investigators reopened the case earlier this year based on hidden-camera recordings made by a Dutch TV crime show. On the video, Van der Sloot says Holloway collapsed on the beach after they left the bar and that he called a friend to dump her body at sea.

The new witness, once a friend of Van der Sloot, confirmed that he gave her roughly the same account shortly after Holloway’s disappearance. But Mos said her statement does not bring authorities any closer to resolving the case.

He also said the witness would lack credibility in court unless she explains why she waited so long to come forward.

Attorneys for Van der Sloot did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment and there was no answer at his parents’ home in Aruba.

Van der Sloot was last known to be living in Thailand but his current whereabouts are a “mystery,” Angela said.

Angela said Aruban authorities hope to decide by the end of this year whether to prosecute Van der Sloot or close the case for good.

Natalee Holloway‘s mother, Beth Holloway, did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday seeking comment.

One Time Aruba Murder Suspect in Natalee Holloway Death Now in Thai Prostitution and Trafficking?

The dark side of illegal immigration

December 3, 2007

Wichita, Kansas, Nov. 28, 2007

While the nation focuses on illegal immigration, there is a whole set of criminals preying and profiting off the fear of illegal immigrants. In a special investigation, KSN exposes the dark underground of human slavery, extortion and trafficking.

The story begins at an apartment in Houston, TX, where an alleged victim was told he could go and find work. We’ll call him Rico to protect his identity.

“When we arrived at the apartment, I realized there was something wrong. A lot of people were being held against their will. Then there was an individual with a handgun and he was telling folks that they could not go outside and leave.”

Rico says he was loaded into a van and brought to Wichita, where he was forced to work all day washing dishes in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant. He was never paid.

“I was standing for 14 hours a day and we could not take breaks, we had to keep working.”

At night, Rico claims he and others were locked in a nearby apartment until the next morning when they were taken back to work. Then one morning, Rico and another man decided to make a run for it.

Rico says he has been working with federal authorities on the case, but no government official would comment to KSN.

Rico’s story however, comes on the heels of another case – the first ever prosecuted in Kansas involving the kidnap and smuggling of illegal immigrants.

Two Mexican nationals were arrested last January after the mini-van they were driving to a flat tire west of Hutchinson on Highway 50.

Deputy Shawn McClay responded to the call, “The tow truck company and myself opened up the back compartment of the van to see if we could find the tool and the spare tire to help them and change it. And it was at that time as soon as we opened it we saw the 11 Hispanics in the back.”

None of them were wearing shoes. Odd, thought Deputy McClay who knew at the very least he had a van of illegal immigrants.

“Now that I look back on it, some of them kind of seemed relieved. But at the time I didn’t know why.”

McClay’s instinct would prove right. When immigration officials questioned the group, they discovered the immigrants were hostages. A spokesperson says the captors deprived the group of their shoes, so they wouldn’t run away.

The Justice Department says the illegal immigrants were abducted from a stash house in Phoenix, Arizona. They were then held at gunpoint and then forced to call family members for payments. They’re not alone – nationwide these crimes are on the rise.

So why is this happening? Law enforcement officials say after September 11th, increased border patrols made human smuggling big business. Other crimes associated with smuggling have increased as well.

Rico says once in Wichita he learned his captors paid for him, “he said, no you owe me money I had to pay for you guys.”

Even though Rico managed to escape, he was left homeless, with no money and hundreds of miles from anyone he knew. He says he’s met others in Wichita who have experienced the same thing he has.

They don’t say anything, they don’t do anything they’re afraid because of the fear of being deported, and they are scared.”

But Rico says nothing’s scarier than what he has experienced, so he shared his story hoping authorities will put a stop to it.