KIMBERLY - The owner of a Kimberly restaurant has been charged with human trafficking.
Yen Meier, 51, faces two charges in Outagamie County for human trafficking and benefiting from human trafficking. She was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
"At around 12:50 p.m., the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration along with our officers went out and arrested Yen Meier at Yen's Chinese Buffet on an arrest warrant," explained Community Support Officer Scott Van Schyndel with the Fox Valley Metro Police Department.
According to a criminal complaint, the alleged victim told police she became pregnant by Meier's brother in China. Meier and her brother arranged for the victim to come to Kimberly and work at Yen's Chinese Buffet. The victim said she agreed because she was afraid of being shamed in China for having a baby out of wedlock. The victim said she arrived in the U.S. in December 2011. The baby was born the following April.
The victim told police Meier paid her a total of $50 the entire time she worked at the restaurant. Meier forced her to work six or seven days a week, for 12 to 14 hours a day. Meier had the victim live in two Kimberly apartments and gave her so little food that her body was not able to produce milk for the baby.
Finally, in July, the victim told police she had enough of Meier's treatment and contacted another person to help her get to Chicago. She did not take the baby along because she had no way to take care of the child. It was the abandoned child that eventually got police involved in the case.
After a months-long investigation, Fox Valley Metro police made the arrest Tuesday afternoon.
"Basically, it's like modern-day slavery, so it's definitely very shocking and disturbing that this is happening to people in our area," Van Schyndel said.
Restaurant employees would not comment on the case. Police say Child Protective Services is helping both the victim and her baby.
Meier is due in court Wednesday. Her estranged husband declined an on-camera interview. However, he told FOX 11 off camera he was aware of the investigation, but was unaware of the arrest.
Federal agencies are also investigating the case.
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