Egg farmers plead guilty to child labor scheme

Egg farmers plead guilty to child labor scheme
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Egg farmers accused of smuggling Central American children into the U.S. to clean unsanitary chicken coops and debeak the birds have pleaded guilty.

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The two men implicated in the human trafficking scheme, Aroldo Castillo-Serrano of Guatemala and Conrado Salgado Soto of Mexico, preyed on eight Guatemalan children and two adults, according to the Justice Department.

They promised good jobs and an American education, but then forced them to work in unsanitary conditions, often times withholding their paychecks on threat of physical violence, according to the DOJ.

They were sent to egg farms in Ohio. Some of the victims were as young as 14 and 15 years old. 

“These defendants exploited children who were poor, vulnerable and entirely at their mercy,” said Vanita Gupta, principle deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.

They “treated workers as if they were less important than the eggs that they would help produce,” added U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. “Now [they are] going to learn the hard way that in this nation, there is a big difference."

Castillo-Serrano pleaded guilty this week after Soto admitted to the labor trafficking scheme earlier in the month. Both are awaiting sentencing, but could spent many years behind bars, according to the DOJ.