OGDEN, UT. (CNN) – A traveling carnival owner faces felony charges of human trafficking in Utah.
The Arizona man was arrested for allegedly holding his workers hostage, and forcing them to live in horrible conditions.
Working at Midway West Amusements, was anything but fun for more than 20 Mexican national employees, according to state investigators.
“It was disgusting, it was disturbing, and it was awful to see human beings treated that way,” Brendan Call, Section Chief Utah Attorney General’s Office Secure Task Force said.
The attorney general’s office accused 31-year-old Jordan Jensen of hiring employees in Mexico and legally bringing them to the U.S. on temporary work visas.
While in Utah, Jensen was accused of illegally taking their passports, forcing them to work more than 70 hours a week without breaks for food or water for just $400.
On Tuesday, three men escaped from the carnival site at the Newgate Mall in Ogden and told investigators from Utah and Mexico.
“This is unique in that way, in that we had victims come forward willing to be victims understanding they are victims,” Call said. “Which is really important because a lot of times these workers just think that this is how it is. They don’t know they have rights and should be treated with humanity.”
The men told investigators they are crammed into a trailer, living in deplorable conditions with no water, electricity or air conditioning.
Employees were not allowed to leave and were threatened to be sent back to Mexico without pay.
“After the raid happened, we were able to provide victim services right on-site,” Andrea Sherman, Asian Association of Utah director of trafficking and persons program said. “We got food. We were assisting people to get hygiene items, travel to save locations within Utah and within the U.S.”
A manager named Dale said Midway West Amusements is not involved with human trafficking and they were holding the passports so they could make copies. Victim advocates said this is a classic case of labor trafficking in Utah.
“Often they come to the United States legally under the guise of working and then their human rights are violated once they get here,” Sherman said.
Investigators expect more victims to come forward in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the carnival is scheduled to go to Idaho this weekend.
Officials asked for a no-bail warrant for Jensen because he often travels with the amusement company.