The teens grew up more than 2,500 miles from central Ohio, in the western highlands of Guatemala. They were impoverished. The smuggler promised them a chance at a better life in America in exchange for $15,000. To help pay, some of their families traded the deeds to their homes.
Their case is at the heart of Trafficked in America, a new documentary from FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley that goes inside the hidden world of labor trafficking. The investigation exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, the companies who profited from their labor and how government policies and practices helped to deliver some teens directly to their traffickers.