The criminal organization dared to do it: they sold 30 of their workers for 21 thousand dollars, as if they were cattle. They were bought for cash by ranchers in a field in Indianapolis, who shelled out $700 for each “slave.”
An investigation by MILLENNIUMbased on the consultation of judicial documents housed in the US courts, reveals that only one of these criminal groups obtained profits of 200 million dollars in four years.
The files also show the modus operandi of the mafias that trade with migrants: After they cross the border, they often steal identification, personal papers and collect information about their families in Mexico or other countries. This is how they intimidate them so they don’t escape. And to further delimit control, they keep them in fields with electrified fences. They are not paid, they are given little water. Abuse is part of the order of the day.
When translated into criminal conduct, these practices constitute labor exploitation and human trafficking. The project End Slavery Nowwhich seeks to make visible “modern slavery” in USA, claims that this type of forced labor is the form of slavery used around the world to produce various products in global supply chains.
And it is that reality that crosses the fields of Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida and Texaswhere 34 leaders of the criminal groups that They trade with migrants. American judges have had to listen to movie stories.
Like that of the migrants sold to ranchers in Indianapolis, who did not dare to protest after the transaction. They were intimidated by blackmail. But life for those who stayed in the camps was not much better. They had to cut dozens of onions day and night with their bare hands, without pay, without water. In fact, one of them died of dehydration from chopping onions in the sun.
At that time, another of the migrants was forced to sleep in a small room with a measles patient as punishment. Others were sent to an onion field with an electric fence, to prevent them from escaping. One of those nights was that one of her companions was raped by one of the bosses.
The criminal organization “Patrick”who for years operated under the façade of a migrant recruitment agency, built a millionaire business thanks to the work of dozens of people who were forced to work in farms in the United States.
His criminal reign ended in 2019, when more than 200 North American police officers set up the operation Onion Blooming, to follow in their footsteps and find their whereabouts.
In November 2021, David H. Estes, interim federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Georgia, He said that “the American dream is a powerful attraction for desperate people, where there is need and greed from those who seek to exploit workers for obscene profit.”
So far, arrest warrants have been issued against 24 people, who face criminal proceedings in the Georgia Prosecutor’s Office for forced labor and human trafficking, among other crimes.
In addition to this group of criminals, MILLENNIUM detected in judicial documents another 10 cases of “bosses” who have enslaved migrants. In sum, in the last four years, 34 people have been prosecuted, most of them with Latin surnames: Mendoza, Chávez, Martínez, Álvarez, Ibarra, Salinas… A King, a McGauley and a Bussey they represent a minority in this list of exploiters.
Modern slavers operate mainly in the agricultural sector, one of the areas that employs thousands of migrants in that country, although in other cases Mexicans have even been forced to grow and sell drugs. The threat is always the same: call the immigration authorities so that they are deported.
The news reached almost instantly Mexico. On June 27 of this year, more than 50 migrants, mostly Mexicans, were found dead inside a tow truck in San Antonio, Texas.
The driver of the trailer found, identified as Homero ‘N’, tried to pass himself off as one of the survivors, however, he was discovered and made available to the authorities. It was later learned that they died of suffocation.
These facts revealed the inhumane conditions to which migrants are subjected who are trying to work on USA. Who “helped” them cross the border? Who were they going to work for?
Court records reveal dozens of stories of migrants who managed to cross the border and find work. The panorama for them is also terrifying: they are exchanged, abused and tortured by other Hispanics.
One of the last cases was registered just on June 28, 2022, when the North American authorities were alerted that three people had been taken at gunpoint and forced to work in McAllen, Texasfor about two weeks.
The investigation revealed that the victims were allegedly being housed separately and forced to work without pay. Two men were forced to sell drugs outside a club, while a woman was forced to work as a nanny for a couple from Texas.
MILLENNIUM tracked all the cases currently active in a US court and found that of the 34 people facing legal proceedings on charges related to forced labor, 25 are men and nine are women.
The cases were registered between 2019 and 2022, and in 33 judicial proceedings the events occurred in some concentration camp. United States: Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida and Texaswhere different types of fruits and vegetables are grown and later distributed throughout the country.
“The trafficking of another human being is a particularly vile crime,” Wisconsin US Attorney Matthew D. Krueger has said.
According to prosecutors, cases such as the criminal organization “Patrick”which operated mostly from the farms of South Georgia, between 2015 and 2019, the enslaved Mexicans have left them profits of up to 200 million dollars.
First enslaving them and then laundering funds through the cash purchase of land, houses, vehicles and businesses, as well as siphoning off millions of dollars through a casino.
It all happened on the farms of eastern Wisconsin, in the northern United States. And they did father, mother, brothers and sons. A family: the Garcia. It is still difficult for the authorities to understand how they managed to subdue 14 Mexican men to enslave them.
They were led to believe that if they did not perform work and services in USA for them, they would suffer serious damage. The indictment also reveals that to restrict their travel movements, the Garcias possessed their victims’ passports.
Court documents also reveal that it was in Mexico where they recruited their victims and tricked them, promising they would have work, money and a better life in the United States. However, when they arrived they were transferred and forced to work in Georgia and Wisconsin.
Although the authorities do not offer further details yet, what is a fact is that the Garcías also amassed a lot of money derived from forced labor. His case is currently in a Wisconsin court, where they await sentencing.
The movements that were accessed reveal that Saul Garcia Jr has reached a plea agreement with the government of USA. It was just this June 22 that the man accused of enslaving Mexican migrants he admitted to agreeing and accepting his responsibility to reduce his sentence.
It is through this plea agreement that details begin to be revealed that outline how these criminal structures operate that force Mexican workers to live in slavery.
“The workers were all Mexican men, who were legal holders of an H-2A visa hired as temporary workers. They arrived from Mexico in the spring of 2016. In the mid-summer of 2016, Mr. Garcia papa approached some of the workers and told them about the opportunity to work on farms in southeastern Wisconsin. Many agreed to travel to Wisconsin,” the plea agreement reveals.
“Many of the workers were asked to turn over their Mexican passports and H2A visas to Garcia Jr, while in Wisconsin.” And that’s where his torment began. Then they would process false documents so that no one would suspect what his true identity was, “they added.
Through this agreement, García Jr. has managed to avoid a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison. His trial continues.
On the so-called “modern slavery”, the promoters of the End Slavery Now project explain that the fishing, textile, construction, mining and agricultural industries are particularly full of forced workers.
In the United States, victims of labor trafficking entered the country under work or student visa programs. Victims may be targeted once they arrive in the United States, or foreign recruiters may bring these workers to the United States, using fraudulent or coercive means.
Immigrants may be vulnerable to US-based traffickers due to unfamiliarity with the English language, US customs, or work processes.