Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Modern-day slavery" trial under way

The trial of a labor camp operator and his wife is under way.

Workers at the camp in East Palatka have testified that they were able to buy crack, beer and cigarettes and the amount of the purchases came out of their weekly pay. They also have testified that crack rocks were sometimes placed in their weekly pay envelopes.

Ronald Evans Sr. and Jequita Evans face life imprisonment if convicted of facilitating a continuing criminal enterprise. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

When the camp was raided in June 2005, a federal agent described it as "modern-day slavery." The agent said homeless men and women were recruited through offers of room and board — including alcohol, tobacco and drugs — which they bought on credit and never made enough in the field to pay off.

Read the Palatka Daily News reports here and here. See previous posts here, here, here, here, here and here.