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Samoan national charged with human trafficking and slavery

A 64-year-old man has been arrested and charged with human trafficking and slavery for bringing Samoan nationals to illegally work in the horticulture industry in New Zealand.

The accused has name suppression but has been identified as a Samoan national with New Zealand residency.

Police say they've identified ten victims so far and believe it has been going on since the 1990s. 

Victims claim they were physically assaulted and threatened, some worked without pay while others had their passports taken off them.

Others allege their movements were closely monitored and controlled by the alleged offender and there were restrictions on where they went and who they had contact with.

The arrest follows a two year joint investigation by NZ Police and Immigration NZ.

Detective Inspector Mike Foster says it is alleged the accused recruited people in Samoa, promising them well-paid jobs.

The alleged offender, described as a respected member of his community in Samoa, is believed to have targeted vulnerable people who had limited education and literacy.

Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager Peter Devoy says they are committed to combating Transnational Organised Crimes, including people trafficking.

Devoy says the case is not linked to the government's Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.


*Preview image: Bell Lodge, NZ

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