California sentences two women for subjecting migrants to slave labor

Two women were sentenced in a court of California for subjecting migrants to slave labor conditions, the justice department reported in a statement released this week.

Nery Martínez and Maura Martínez, both 54 years old, must serve sentences of six and a half years and three years, respectively, for keeping a mother and two daughters working long hours under threats and extortion, and with little or no pay.

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“These defendants abused vulnerable victims, forcing them to work in their businesses, without paying them and depriving them of the most basic human rights”said California Eastern District Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

In 2016, the couple, who ran a restaurant and cleaning service in Shasta County, Northern California, “convinced the victims, a woman from Guatemala and her two daughters aged 15 and 8, to come to the United States promising a better life”, details the statement.

The defendants paid for the trip and once in the United States, with temporary visas, they forced the family to work to pay almost triple what was initially paid, according to court documents.

“When the adult victim complained and wanted to leave, the defendants threatened them, saying that they would arrest them for immigration offenses unless they continued the long hours for little pay.”, adds the text.

The mother and the eldest daughter had to work twelve hours a day without any days off in the couple’s businesses, and the youngest daughter several hours a day without pay, according to local media reports.

The daughters were physically beaten by one of the women. The family was kept in a trailer.”destroyed, without heat or water, and they were humiliated and degraded in front of others.”

The defendants must pay fines and compensate the victims with $300,000.

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