Police in the central highlands province of Quang Nam on Monday said they freed 32 people who had been enslaved for six months.
Vietnamnet reported that the people, all of whom belong to the Bhnoong ethnic minority group, were recruited to grow acacias in Dak Nong Province in April.
One of the victims, Ho Van Chan, said the recruiter, Do Ngoc Lan, 44, promised to pay each of them VND1.8-2.1 million (US$92.4-107.8) a month and provide them with three meals a day.
However, they didn't receive any pay for months and were forced to engage in heavy manual labor without proper meals, Ho Thi Bong, another victim, said.
They worked in a forest in Dak R'mang and couldn't contact their families or leave, the victims said.
The laborers were discovered when Phuoc Son District police received reports from families and sent out a search party.
Vietnamnet reported that Ho Van Chuong, one of the victims, died from malaria Friday, prompting Lan to flee. He was later caught.
Lan said he and his wife, 45-year-old Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga, were contracted to recruit workers for Dak Lak Paper Materials Factory, the news source reported.
The married couple comes from Kon Tum province and didn't know much about Quang Nam. They asked Ho Van Xia, chief of Hamlet No.4 in Phuoc Chanh Commune to introduce them to local laborers.
Xia was paid VND100,000 ($5.13) for each worker he introduced to Lan.
Investigations are ongoing.