According to the plea agreement, Christina Gamez, 43, from March 2016 through August 2017, while working as a bookkeeper, manager, and supervisor for Los Villatoros Harvesting (LVH), a labor contracting company employing Mexican H-2A workers harvesting fruits and vegetables in Florida,

Florida Farm Labor Business Owner Sentenced In ‘Forced Labor’ Case

A Florida federal judge has sentenced the owner of a farm-labor company to nearly 10 years in prison on racketeering and forced labor charges, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
TFP File Photo

A Florida federal judge has sentenced the owner of a farm-labor company to nearly 10 years in prison on racketeering and forced labor charges, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

Bladimir Moreno, the owner of Los Villatoros Harvesting LLC, brought Mexican farm workers to the U.S. on what is known as H-2A agricultural visas and was accused of mistreating them.

“Human trafficking, including forced labor campaigns that exploit vulnerable workers, is unlawful, immoral, and inhumane,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a prepared statement.

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“This defendant abused his power as a business owner to capitalize on the victims’ vulnerabilities and immigration status, luring those seeking a better quality of life with false promises of lawful work paying a fair wage. The defendant forced Mexican agricultural workers to labor under inhumane conditions, confiscated their passports, imposed exorbitant fees and debts, and threatened them with deportation or false arrest,” said Clarke.

A Justice Department news release said Moreno “compelled” victims to work in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell sentenced Moreno, 55, to 118 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and conspiracy to commit forced labor, the news release said.

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