A seventh person has been charged in connection to a case of forced labor on an Ohio egg farm. Authorities say that Pablo Duran Ramirez helped smuggle Guatemalan teens into the United States and then subjected them to slave-like working conditions on a farm near Marion, Ohio for two years.
The Portland Press Herald reports:
The teenagers from Guatemala were kept as virtual slave laborers, forced to turn over most of their earnings, and had to live in run-down trailers with no heat and little food before they were rescued in 2014, investigators have said.
Six others already have been convicted in the case, which prosecutors said involved luring the boys and young men with promises of enrolling them in school and finding them good jobs.
According to the indictment, Duran Ramirez operated a company that provided workers to farms who would clean chicken coops, de-beak chickens, and unload crates at the egg farm. The charges against Duran Ramirez include forced labor, conspiracy, and encouraging illegal entry.
Prosecutors say the criminals also targeted the victims’ families back home. One of the ringleaders made the victims’ families sign over deeds to their property in Guatemala.
Trillium Farms, where the teens worked, produces more than 2 billion eggs per year at various farms around central Ohio. The company says it was unaware of what was happening at its farm. It hasn’t been charged.