AN IMPORTANT CASE ANALYSIS: PATRICIO LABOR TRAFFICKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING RING...
OVER 100 VICTIMS - $200 MILLION LAUNDERED
Labeled "Operation Blooming Onion" by Homeland Security, the operation netted the arrest of 24 defendants who allegedly were part of an International Organized Criminal Organization led by 70-year-old matriarch Maria Leticia Patricio. Law Enforcement have identified more than 100 victims who were recruited from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala and brought to the U.S. on H2A visas to harvest onions in southern U.S. states.
Once in the U.S., the individuals were forced to dig onions with their bare hands, were paid 20 cents for each bucket harvested and threatened with guns and violence so they could not escape. According to the U.S. Dept of Justice, the workers were held in cramped, unsanitary quarters and fenced work camps with little or no food, limited plumbing and without safe water. The conspirators are accused of raping, kidnapping and threatening or attempting to kill some of the workers or their families. In many cases the victims were sold or traded to other conspirators.
The conspirators allegedly reaped more than $200 million from the exploitation of the workers and laundered the money through cash purchases of land, homes, vehicles and businesses through cash purchases of cashier checks and funneling millions of dollars through the Hard Rock Tampa Casino.
This cases is a sobering reminder that just because foreign national individuals are in the U.S. whether with Visas or undocumented, does not mean they are safe on U.S. Soil.
If you know of anyone that is being exploited through labor or sexual abuse, you can report (anonymously) at 1-888-373-7888.
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Please note: A criminal complaint, an arrest, or an indictment is a formal accusation or allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
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