Photo: Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images
The owner of an agricultural contracting company has been sentenced to nine years in prison for exploiting migrant workers. Reported to the Attorney for the Middle District of Florida (USA), mostly Mexican, and for major criminal activities in several states.
Federal Magistrate Charlene Edward Honeywell sentenced to 118 months in prison Vladimir Moreno, 55, as well as three years of supervised release and payment of $175,000 in restitution to his victims. For leading a criminal organization that forced Mexicans who came to the United States with special visas (H-2A) to work in the agricultural sector.
According to Assistant US Attorney Kristen Clarke, Moreno and his cohorts “forced the Mexicans to work in inhumane conditions, confiscated their passports, imposed exorbitant fees and loans, and threatened them with deportation or illegal arrest.”
“He abused his power as a business owner to capitalize on the victims’ vulnerabilities and immigration status, demanding a better quality of life with false promises of legal work,” Clarke said in a statement released by prosecutors. Enticed the people.
Moreno, the owner and director of the contracting firm Los Villeteros Harvesting LLC (LVH), was arrested in September 2021 and earlier this year charged with conspiracy under a federal law on corrupt and extortion organizations (RICO). was convicted of one count.
According to court documents, LVH brought large numbers of temporary Mexican workers to the US on H-2A agricultural visas, which the company applied to federal authorities through false declarations, and also engaged in illegal activities, including Also included was visa fraud and forgery. Recruitment of foreign labor.
After making false promises to Mexican farmworkers to work with LVH and charging them inflated fees to enter the United States on H-2A visasMoreno and his associates put immigrants to work on farms located in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Once upon a time in the US, more than a dozen farm workers had to work “physically demanding” work six or seven days a week and long hours for minimum wage, according to the federal prosecutor’s office.
Moreno and his associates used various forms of coercion, including imposing loans on workers, confiscating passports, in addition to “overcrowded, unhygienic and degrading living conditions”.
Similarly, Threatened to keep them in the US after their visas expired “With arrest and deportation if they did not comply with the demands.”
The prosecutor’s office said that in order to conceal the company’s criminal activity, Moreno “created fraudulent records containing falsified information about workers’ wages and working hours and repeatedly made false statements to federal investigators.”