LILBURN - Lilburn police have charged a fourth man in the city's first human trafficking case, alleging the men channeled immigrants from India, worked them as exotic dancers at a Norcross bar without pay and held them captive in a locked house.
Police found six women and two men pent up in locked, guarded rooms last weekend at a four-bedroom home on Sunfield Drive, where they were forbidden from leaving unless accompanied by their captors, said Lilburn police spokesman Detective Matt Lake.
The women, each visiting the United States legally on entertainment visas, were forced to perform as belly dancers at Mehtil Bar, Grill and Entertainment in Norcross, Lake said.
None of the women - who ranged in age from mid-20s to early 30s - were physically harmed or forced into sexual acts, he said.
Escape for the victims, he said, was difficult.
"The women's passports, money and return airline tickets were held by those men overseeing them," Lake said.
Police arrested three suspects - Shifiqat Muhammad Ali, Vijay Bannerjee and Govino Vishwa - on Saturday. A fourth man, Farrukh Khan, was arrested later this week.
All four remain at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond, each charged with 18 counts of human trafficking. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for the suspects at 1:30 p.m. today.
Bannerjee and Vishwa lived at the Sunfield Drive home, while Ali and Khan reside in Alabama, Lake said.
Police initially stumbled on the human depot when responding to a fight at the home Saturday, Lake said. An acquaintance of a woman living at the home had slipped through a window to see her.
Once inside, "the man was discovered by one of the men guarding the house," Lake said. "A physical altercation ensued."
Lake said the arrests mark the first case of human trafficking handled by Lilburn police.
In 2007, Georgia legislators enacted a statute called the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, a measure meant to clamp down on illegal immigration that also created the offense of human trafficking.
The law penalizes those found guilty of human trafficking with a minimum year in prison, or a minimum 10 years if a victim is under age 18.