South Florida Country Clubs Contracting in Slave Labor: Feds - NBC 6 South Florida

South Florida Country Clubs Contracting in Slave Labor: Feds

A husband and wife are accused of forcing 39 Philippine immigrants into slavery

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    Country clubs are often reserved for the rich and well off and have the best amenities money can buy.

    But membership in several exclusive South Florida clubs came with a sinister perk that has the feds working overtime - slavery.

    Federal agents claim Alfonso Baldonado Jr. and his wife, Sophia Manuel, are behind an elaborate scheme that forced 39 Filipino workers into slave labor at local country clubs.

    The couple allegedly ran a company called Quality Staffing Services based in Boca Raton and sent the workers to posh clubs to work incredibly long hours with little pay.

    "What people need to realize that it is happening here in Miami and at an alarming rate," Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Carmen Pino said. "It's a big problem here and there is human trafficking. This is slave labor and even sex trafficking."

    The feds singled out the pricey Indian Creek Country Club on Miami Beach and Miami Shores Country Club as frequent clients of the slave labor company.

    Nine other golf courses in Broward and Palm Beach counties also contracted with Baldonado, but investigators have not said whether any of the clients knew of the illegal activity.

    Several golf coursed didn't return phone calls from NBCMiami on Monday, but I.C.E. said managers they interviewed claimed they hired the employment firm without really knowing where the contracted workforce was coming from.

    The agents found out about the troubling trend when they received a call about a hostage situation. They found workers living in terrible conditions with 20 illegal aliens forced to live together in a small home.

    The illegal laborers worked 16 hours a day every day of the week. And while some received virtually nothing, most were required to pay back the firm from he little wages they received, Pino said.

    The husband and wife team are now behind bars on human trafficking charges.

    For more on stopping human trafficking go to http://www.ice.gov/human-trafficking/.

    ICE also has a hotline to report possible slave labor, 1-866-dhs-2ice.