Human Trafficking Investigation
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
Fox Valley-- Search warrants filed in Outagamie County describe a woman from China desperately looking for help, for herself and her unborn child. However, after being "smuggled" into the country, her situation did not improve.
Fox Valley Metro Police first became involved last August when trying to find a missing Kimberly woman. The unnamed woman left behind an infant daughter. Court documents state the woman was located several months later in Chicago. She returned to the Fox Valley and was questioned by police.
Police are investigating a claim, this woman was "smuggled" into the country and then taken-in by a local restaurant owner and forced to work for no pay.
Police say this is a violation of Wisconsin and Federal, human trafficking laws. Officer Scott Van Schyndel of Fox Valley Metro says, "That is why the search warrants were issued due to human trafficking..."
Records show police logged more than 80 items of "evidence," after executing four search warrants last week. Police say they are meeting with the Outagamie County District Attorney next week, to decide if any charges will be filed.
Story from 1/15/12
Fox Valley-- Residents in the Town of Harrison were startled Tuesday morning when local and federal officers were lined up on Red Clover Trail. Police executed a search warrant at a home owned by Keith Meier.
Police say the home is a "focal point" in a joint investigation with Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration. "I noticed them going through their car and putting everything out on the ground and in bags," one neighbor described.
Now Fox Valley Metro Police say it wasn't the only home searched. Police say they also searched a home on North Wilson street in Kimberly. Tax records show Keith Meier owns the home on 138 N Wilson and neighbors told us off camera that officers were there Tuesday morning around 8 am. That's the same time agents were seen at the Harrison home.
Lt. Steeber with Fox Valley Metro told us about the investigation, "As of right now it is a partnership among HSI, FBI, DCI and us." "HSI" is the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration. Police now say "Immigration," is a "focal point" of this investigation.
Tax records show Mr. Meier also owns the building across the street from his N Wilson address. It's the location of "Yen's Chinese Buffet." In a phone interview with NBC26, Keith Meier says tenants of his Wilson Street home "are the employees at the restaurant, Yen's Chinese Buffet."
Police have not identified the people involved in the investigation. They have not indicated that Meier, his business or any employees are part of this investigation at this time.