Flagstaff Wedding Shop Owners Accused of Forced Labor - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Flagstaff Wedding Shop Owners Accused of Forced Labor


Federal authorities say four members of a Flagstaff family have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.

An indictment unsealed Thursday charges the four with luring Vietnamese women to the United States under false pretenses since 2001.

According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the McReynolds family promised them a better life, including promises of happy marriages to United States citizens and educational opportunities.

"The investigation that culminated today was a human trafficking investigation," says Matthew Allen, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations at ICE. "Human trafficking is a crime of exploitation."

They allegedly forced the women to work at their home and their Flagstaff wedding boutique until at least 2008.

Prosecutors claim 58-year-old Huong Thi McReynolds worked with her 60-year-old ex-husband James McReynolds and their two adult children -- Joseph Minh McReynolds, 36 and Vincent Minh McReynolds, 32 -- to bring women over from Vietnam.

The women reportedly were forced to work at the "I Do, I Do Wedding Shop" for up to 11 hours per day, seven days per week. Their servitude ended either when they escaped or were "evicted."

The indictment alleges that some of the victims weren't paid for their work for years.

"Huong Thi McReynolds and her family lured these victims to the United States on the promise of the American dream; what the victims got instead was indentured servitude," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

"The defendants created a climate of fear inside their home and business by carrying firearms, berating the victims and threatening to physically harm them and shame their families in Vietnam. They weren't just exploited for their labor, they were robbed of their basic human dignity."

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