Saturday, January 27, 2007

Labor camp owner sentenced
to 30 years for abusing farmworkers

The farm boss lured recruits from homeless shelters with promises of good work and steady pay, yet when the destitute arrived at the East Palatka camp of Ronald Evans Sr., they faced a different reality: a hovel-turned-open-market bazaar filled with crack, booze and cigarettes sold from the ''company store.''

The workers, mostly black men recruited from Miami to Tampa and beyond, had become literally addicted to the camp, unable to flee until their debt was squared.

Now Evans faces his penance: 30 years in prison, the longest sentence handed out for abuse of farmworkers in recent Florida history.

In addition, his two labor camps have been forfeited to the government, and Evans and his wife Jequita -- his co-defendant -- must hand over
$1.1 million in ill-gotten gains.

Read the Miami Herald story here. And check out the Herald's Fields of Despair special report, which exposed the rank exploitation of laborers at North Florida farmworker camps, including the practices of crew leaders like Evans.

More links: the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Anti-Slavery Campaign and previous posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Update: Read about the CIW's role in investigating the Evans operation here.


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