A Texas couple has been accused of beating their five adopted children and forcing them to run a filthy puppy mill with more than 100 animals.
Jeffery and Barbara Barrett of Greenville were arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety officers earlier this month and charged with human trafficking. They were already awaiting trial for animal cruelty.
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“This is one of [the first cases] — if not the first case — involving child labor trafficking in the state of Texas,” said Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Leeburg Melton, who leads a unit in the Texas attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Dallas News reports:
Many of the animals, most of which were dogs and puppies, were kept in filthy conditions in a metal addition behind the home, according to the SPCA of Texas, which was involved in the animals’ seizure. The Barretts told officials that they bred the puppies to sell.
Now, officials are alleging that the Barretts took their five children — two girls and three boys ages 12 to 17 — out of public school and forced them to care for the animals. The children all had been adopted from California.
The children told authorities that the Barretts hit them with plywood, bamboo sticks and brushes, according to arrest-warrant affidavits obtained by the Greenville Herald-Banner. Four of them had “marks, bruises and open wounds in different stages of healing,” officials observed.
The adopted children have been in Child Protective Service custody since September of last year, when Hunt County officials seized 117 animals from the family’s home.
Bail has been set for the Barretts at $650,000 each. They are currently being held at the Hunt County jail.