3 men sentenced in Georgia forced farm labor investigation

Three males had been sentenced to federal jail as a part of a large investigation into what government stated used to be a wide-ranging conspiracy to carry staff from Central America to the United States for compelled exertions on south Georgia farms.

The 3 males have been charged in separate however comparable instances associated with a federal investigation dubbed Blooming Onion, prosecutors stated in a information unlock. Authorities say the farm staff have been introduced into the U.S. at the H-2A agricultural visa program after which the lads profited from their paintings via underpaying them and forcing them to reside in substandard stipulations.

“These men engaged in facilitating modern-day slavery,” U.S. Attorney David Estes stated in a information unlock. “Our law enforcement partners have exposed an underworld of human trafficking, and we will continue to identify and bring to justice those who would exploit others whose labors provide the fuel for their greed.”

Javier Sanchez Mendoza Jr., 24, of Jesup, pleaded in charge to conspiracy to have interaction in compelled exertions and used to be sentenced to serve 30 years in jail. Aurelio Medina, 42, of Brunswick, pleaded in charge to compelled exertions and used to be sentenced to 5 years and 4 months. Yordon Velazquez Victoria, 45, of Brunswick, won a sentence of 15 months after pleading in charge to conspiracy.

Mendoza and Medina are Mexican voters dwelling illegally within the U.S. and are matter to deportation when they serve their jail phrases, prosecutors stated.

Mendoza admitted that from August 2018 to November 2019, he used to be a pacesetter in a scheme to supply exertions and products and services for farms and different companies in Glynn, Ware and Pierce counties, the discharge says. He recruited greater than 500 folks from Central America and unlawfully charged them for H-2A visas and withheld their id papers and compelled them to paintings for very little pay in horrible stipulations via threatening them and their households again house, prosecutors stated.

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One sufferer testified all through sentencing that Mendoza picked her from a piece workforce after she arrived from Mexico and taken her to reside with him, making her consider falsely that she had married him. He managed her the use of threats and intimidation, time and again raping her, for greater than a yr, prosecutors stated. 

After she escaped, Mendoza abducted her at knifepoint from the entrance backyard of a house the place she used to be babysitting, prosecutors stated. Law enforcement officials who discovered her at Mendoza’s cellular house in Jesup and rescued her discovered a shrine to Santa Muerte, “Saint Death,” embellished together with her hair and blood, the discharge says. Mendoza faces state annoyed attack fees associated with that.

Medina admitted that from April to October 2020, he charged international staff for H-2A visas after which withheld their id paperwork in Glynn and Effingham counties. Victoria, a naturalized U.S. citizen, admitted that he allowed Medina to make use of his identify to use to make use of H-2A staff and used to be paid $600 every week to carry the employees from their housing to paintings.

Prosecutors stated the investigation into compelled exertions in south Georgia and in different places is constant thru a federal case wherein 23 persons are charged in an alleged conspiracy to devote exertions trafficking, visa fraud and cash laundering.

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