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Three Men in Missouri Accused of Enticing Relative to Come to U.S. From India, Enslaving and Torturing Him in Basement: Cops

Missouri Men Enslaved, Tortured Cousin in Basement for a Year: Cops
Source: St. Charles County Department of Corrections

Three Missouri men are facing multiple charges for allegedly luring a family member to the United States from India and enslaving him.

Dec. 6 2023, Published 3:02 p.m. ET

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Three men from Missouri have been arrested after they reportedly enticed a family member from India into coming to the United States, where they're accused of enslaving him, according to authorities.

On Nov. 29, officers responded to a call about a distressed man outside a residence in St. Charles County, according to The Times of India.

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After police knocked on the door, a 20-year-old man fled the house, begging for help, officials said.

Nikhil Penmatsa, 27, and Sravan Penumetcha, 23, then answered the door but refused to let police inside the home, according to police. Officers took both men into custody while they investigated.

Venkutesh Sattaru, 35, identified as the victim's cousin, was also later taken into custody. He and his wife and children reportedly lived in the home.

Investigators said the victim allegedly had been confined to a basement in the residence for around seven months, The Times of India reported, and they determined there were two other locations where the victim had been held.

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According to authorities, the alleged victim was forced to sleep on an unfinished floor without access to a bathroom. He was force to dig through nearby restaurant dumpsters for food and allegedly beaten with various objects, including electrical wire, PVC pipes, metal rods, wooden boards, sticks and a water washing machine hose, authorities claimed.

"It's absolutely inhumane and unconscionable that one human being could treat another human being like this," Prosecutor Joe McCulloch told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


The victim arrived in the United States from India on a student visa and hoped to attend the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He told authorities his family members had initially agreed to sponsor his stay in the US.

However, the victim allegedly found himself confined to basements across multiple residences owned by Sattaru, and he was forced to work for his cousin's company, according to authorities.

Assigned menial tasks starting at 4:30 a.m., he juggled responsibilities throughout the day, working at Sattaru's IT company, and performing additional duties at night, with only three hours of sleep per night — all while being monitored by video surveillance, officials alleged.

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The three men taken into custody were charged with multiple offenses, including trafficking for purposes of slavery/involuntary servitude or forced labor; contributing to human trafficking/misuse of documentation; accessory first-degree domestic assault; armed criminal action; and kidnapping and abuse through forced labor.

They were being held without bail due to their influence in India, KMOV-TV reported.

The victim suffered injuries that included unhealed bone fractures, officials said.


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