[Hpn] U.S. AGENTS RAID FLORIDA MIGRANT LABOR CAMP

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 5 Jun 2005 23:24:45 -0400


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U.S. Agents Raid Fla. Migrant Labor Camp
washingtonpost.com
U.S. Agents Raid Fla. Migrant Labor Camp

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 5, 2005



EAST PALATKA, Fla. -- Federal agents raided a migrant farm labor camp =
where homeless men and women were kept in what labor officials called a =
version of modern-day slavery.

Four people, including the camp's owner, Ronald Evans, face federal =
charges in a case that officials said is likely to grow. Investigators =
are looking into alleged environmental violations and drugs found at the =
camp in Friday's raid.

"The word is out that we are concerned about human trafficking, and we =
will leave no stone or camp unturned," said Steve Cole, a spokesman for =
Jacksonville U.S. attorney Paul I. Perez.

Officials said homeless people were recruited to the Evans Labor Camp =
through offers of room and board, along with alcohol, tobacco and drugs, =
which they bought on credit. But they never made enough in the field to =
pay it off, according to an investigative summary.

"A lot of times, they get them indebted even before they get back to the =
camp," said federal agent Rebecca Hall.

In a small central shed, investigators found about 100 rocks of =
suspected crack cocaine along with cigarettes and beer. Detective Lt. =
John Merchant described the shed as a "shop" where the rocks were sold =
for $20 each.

Department of Labor agents were joined in the raid by local officials =
and agents from the Environmental Protection Agency, which was =
investigating illegal dumping of raw sewage into a tributary of the St. =
Johns River.

"They've found what clearly looks like EPA violations, discharging raw =
sewage into the environment," said Putnam County Sheriff's Capt. Gary =
Bowling.

Seventy-eight potato field workers were interviewed at the compound =
south of Jacksonville. Some were arrested on unrelated, outstanding =
warrants.

Federal civil rights attorneys waited outside the camp to talk to the =
workers, offering them help getting out of the camp and finding other =
work. About 20 left with the attorneys.

=A9 2005 The Associated Press
 
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<DIV><FONT size=3D+2><B>U.S. Agents Raid Fla. Migrant Labor=20
Camp</B></FONT><BR></DIV>
<P><FONT size=3D-1>The Associated Press<BR>Sunday, June 5, =
2005<BR></FONT>
<P><NITF>
<P>EAST PALATKA, Fla. -- Federal agents raided a migrant farm labor camp =
where=20
homeless men and women were kept in what labor officials called a =
version of=20
modern-day slavery.</P>
<P>Four people, including the camp's owner, Ronald Evans, face federal =
charges=20
in a case that officials said is likely to grow. Investigators are =
looking into=20
alleged environmental violations and drugs found at the camp in Friday's =

raid.</P>
<P>"The word is out that we are concerned about human trafficking, and =
we will=20
leave no stone or camp unturned," said Steve Cole, a spokesman for =
Jacksonville=20
U.S. attorney Paul I. Perez.</P>
<P>Officials said homeless people were recruited to the Evans Labor Camp =
through=20
offers of room and board, along with alcohol, tobacco and drugs, which =
they=20
bought on credit. But they never made enough in the field to pay it off, =

according to an investigative summary.</P>
<P>"A lot of times, they get them indebted even before they get back to =
the=20
camp," said federal agent Rebecca Hall.</P>
<P>In a small central shed, investigators found about 100 rocks of =
suspected=20
crack cocaine along with cigarettes and beer. Detective Lt. John =
Merchant=20
described the shed as a "shop" where the rocks were sold for $20 =
each.</P>
<P>Department of Labor agents were joined in the raid by local officials =
and=20
agents from the Environmental Protection Agency, which was investigating =
illegal=20
dumping of raw sewage into a tributary of the St. Johns River.</P>
<P>"They've found what clearly looks like EPA violations, discharging =
raw sewage=20
into the environment," said Putnam County Sheriff's Capt. Gary =
Bowling.</P>
<P>Seventy-eight potato field workers were interviewed at the compound =
south of=20
Jacksonville. Some were arrested on unrelated, outstanding warrants.</P>
<P>Federal civil rights attorneys waited outside the camp to talk to the =

workers, offering them help getting out of the camp and finding other =
work.=20
About 20 left with the attorneys.</P></NITF><!-- start the copyright for =
the articles -->
<DIV id=3DarticleCopyright style=3D"CLEAR: both" =
align=3Dcenter>=A9&nbsp;2005&nbsp;The=20
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