By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Ukrainian national has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in running an international human trafficking ring.
Calling 52-year-old Omelyan Botsvynyuk ‘a modern day slave master,’ Federal Court Judge Paul Diamond imposed the life sentence, because he says Botsvynyuk ‘terrorized his victims,’ and had their families back in Ukraine ‘living in fear.’
A jury previously convicted him on racketeering and extortion charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Velez says the Botsvynyuk organization made false promises of good-paying jobs, room and board. Instead, victims were threatened, beaten and held in involuntary servitude.
“This is the type of crime that hides in plain sight. It could be in a restaurant or in a store. In this particular case, these were folks working at a Walmart and Target and cleaning the floors.”
One of his brothers, convicted in the same trial, faces up to 20-years in prison. Two more brothers await extradition from Canada. A fifth brother is wanted by Interpol, and believed to be in Ukraine.