Two brothers have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a human trafficking operation that involved beatings, kidnapping and rape to keep victims in Philadelphia cleaning jobs with meager pay.
Mykhaylo Botsvynyuk, 37, and Yaroslav Churuk, 48, were convicted last year of racketeering conspiracy charges related to their role as traffickers in an illegal human-smuggling network that brought undocumented Ukrainians to Philadelphia as janitors, Philly.com reported.
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On Thursday, District Judge Paul Diamond gave the duo a sentence of 20 years each and restitution to total $288,000, NBC added in a related report.
"In the 12 years I have been doing this job, these are perhaps the worst crimes I have ever seen," District Judge Diamond was quoted by Philly.com. "The evidence in this case hearkens back to war crimes tribunals in demonstrating just how cruel and abhorrent people's conduct can be."
The men initially promised friends and neighbors in the Ukraine legal immigration into the U.S., a $500-per-month job and free room and board, according to NBC, but those promises turned into a very different reality.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Velez described the ordeals that the trafficking victims endured in the Port Richmond-based operation, saying that female captives were raped, a worker was beaten in front of other captives, and one woman’s hands were tied and her mouth taped as she was sodomized as others watched, Philly.com stated.
"Our peace, our health was taken away from us – our young years and trust in people," one trafficking victim was quoted by Philly.com. "They took away the most precious parts of my life."