Ohio Trafficking Case Demonstrates What It Takes to Bankrupt Slavery

By Solveig Haugen

Eight Guatemalan teenagers were promised an education. Instead they were forced into slavery.

Last week FBI agents raided Trillium Farms Ohio, an egg-farming company in Marion, Ohio, and freed the teens. The FBI reported that the victims had their paychecks withheld and were repeatedly threatened by the defendants.

When company management was informed that there were possible trafficking concerns with one of their labor contractors, it fully complied with the investigation, leading to the same-day rescue of the victims. A federal grand jury indicted four individuals on multiple charges, accusing them of trafficking, forced labor, and witness tampering. They now await prosecution.

This case in Ohio highlights three aspects essential to dismantling the business of human trafficking.

First, the company took action to maintain a clean supply chain. Businesses can help break the business of human trafficking if they demand clean supply chains, monitor their subcontractors, and cooperate with government investigations. Businesses and government officials must work together to build and enforce clean supply chains.

Second, the government is prosecuting four people. Human trafficking will never end if there are no consequences for perpetrators. The risks for exploiters need to be increased. Prosecutions should not only target final perpetrators, but also other actors involved in human trafficking, such as document forgers and fraudulent recruiters.

Finally, resources were available to help the victims. In this case, local, on the ground assistance was available to identify and aid the victims. Providing such services are an essential aspect of any program that seeks to create a comprehensive, sustainable project to reduce the prevalence of trafficking. For continued success, victim services, as well as law enforcement, agency collaboration and inter-jurisdictional task forces need adequate funding to develop and grow.

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry. It will take creativity, collaboration, and cash to take it down. Through funding and developing anti-trafficking resources, demanding clean supply chains, and aggressively prosecuting all perpetrators, slavery could be eradicated. Eight teenagers gained their freedom because various actors and programs came together and did their part.

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Published on July 10, 2015

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