Sources: Grand jury to probe La. company for alleged human trafficking

Sources: Grand jury to probe La. company for alleged human trafficking

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 11 at 10:54 PM

Brendan McCarthy / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @bmccarthyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana oilfield contracting company has been under intense scrutiny in the wake of a deadly oil platform explosion last November.

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Now, they appear to be in the cross-hairs of the federal government in a criminal probe.

For months we've been examining human trafficking allegations against Grand Isle Shipyard

Now sources tell Eyewitness Investigates that federal authorities have convened a grand jury to look into possible criminal violations by Grand Isle Shipyard and its affiliated companies.

Sources say subpoenas have been issued for documents belonging to the company and that one of the defense attorneys involved is Eddie Castaing, a high-profile local lawyer. We contacted Castaing but he declined to comment.

Last November, an explosion rocked an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing three Grand Isle Shipyard workers and severely injuring three other men.

All were Filipino nationals, recruited and brought here under a guest worker program.

Since the explosion, we've done several reports, uncovering claims of abuse and possible fraud.

Dozens of Filipino guest workers say they were subjected to slave-like conditions, cheated out of wages, and worked upwards of 400 hours a month for slightly more than $3 an hour.

We went all the way to the Philippines and found a troubled system in which workers are recruited and trafficked to this country. We uncovered immigration paperwork allegedly based on lies and more.

Bryan Cox, spokesman for Homeland Security Investigations, said the agency “does not comment on the existence or absence of a pending investigation."

A public relations firm retained by Grand Isle Shipyard did not respond to a request for comment.

With reporting by Mike Perlstein.