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Minnesota woman pleads guilty to forced labor trafficking

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A 59-year-old woman pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Mankato Tuesday to smuggling a woman into the country and forcing her to work at her son's restaurant for repayment, The Associated Press reports.

According to court documents, Tieu Tran recruited a woman from Vietnam to travel to the U.S. in 2008 using false promises of legal immigration status and a high-paying job. Instead, Tran, of Mankato, forced the woman to work long hours without paying her as promised, prosecutors said.

The Justice Department said victim was smuggled along with two other Vietnamese nationals across the U.S.-Mexico border by Tran, who "imposed a significant debt" on the woman, reported the Mankato Free Press. To repay the debt, Tran forced the woman to work at her son's restaurant, Pho Saigon, in Mankato.

The Justice Department said Tran "used manipulation of debts, isolation and verbal intimidation to hold the victim in fear, knowing that the victim was without legal status and money, did not have the ability to speak English, feared losing her family home in Vietnam to creditors and had nowhere else to turn for subsistence."

Prosecutors also said Tran "preyed on vulnerable victims and exploited them for her profit."

The Department of Justice said in a statement that Tran faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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