US construction boss sentenced to eight years in prison for forced labour

A court in the Northern District of California has sentenced the owner of a local contractor to eight-and-a-half years in prison after finding him guilty of harbouring undocumented workers and obtaining forced labour from them.

According to a statement from the Department of Justice, Job Torres Hernandez forced dozens of Mexican labourers to live in squalid conditions and sleep on makeshift beds while forcing them to work up to 24 hours in a single shift. Hernandez threatened to hurt the workers, have their families in Mexico harmed, or deport them if they spoke out.

The undocumented migrants were lured to the US from Mexico on the promise of well paid jobs. However, when they arrived they found they had limited access to toilets and showers, and were locked inside properties such as commercial warehouses and garages to prevent them leaving. Hernandez shielded the workers from detection.

Hernandez was also ordered to pay $919,738 in unpaid wages to labourers, whom he had previously paid "little to nothing".

After completing his sentence, Hernandez will remain under supervision for three years.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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