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The worldwide epidemic of human trafficking has reached the beauty industry.

A West African immigrant has pleaded guilty to running a human trafficking operation that forced women to braid hair for up to 14 hours a day in Newark and East Orange NJ, reports the New Jersey Star Ledger.

In a case prosecutors equated to modern day slavery, Lassissi Afolabi, 46, told a judge he headed a ring that smuggled victims from villages in Ghana and Togo. He brought twenty women, age 10 to 19, to New Jersey, where he seized their passports, forbade them to learn English and make friends, and planted them in salons where they were forced to work up to 14 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Though not as horrific as sex-trafficking, this story brings to light the exploitation of innocents who want to find a better life in the US. And this is only one case -- we wonder how many more women are being made to work against their will in salons across the country?