WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Department of Justice today announced the

sentencing of a Florida man previously convicted on human trafficking-related

charges. Ramiro Ramos was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to

hold workers in involuntary servitude and harboring undocumented workers.

United States District Court Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced Ramos to 15

years in prison, fined him $20,000 and ordered the defendant to forfeit

property valued at over $3 million. In addition, the court issued an order of

deportation. Ramiro Ramos brother, Juan Ramos, also scheduled to be sentenced

today will now be sentenced on May 3rd.

The brothers were Florida labor contractors who supplied migrant farm laborers

to citrus growers. Undocumented Mexican citizens were transported to Florida

to work for the Ramos brothers. Once in Florida, they were forced to work

until they had paid off their transportation debt. The defendants threatened

the workers with violence if they left prematurely, and brutally beat a van

driver and several of his employees to prevent them from taking workers away

from the area.

It is abhorrent that 139 years after the Thirteenth Amendment banned

indentured servitude from the United States, this practice persists, said R.

Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. No one should

be held in forced labor. We are extremely pleased that the court imposed a

sentence commensurate with the vile nature of this crime.

On June 28, 2002, following a four week trial, a jury found the brothers

guilty of conspiring to hold workers in involuntary servitude and of harboring

undocumented workers. The jury also determined that real and personal property

valued at over $3 million was subject to forfeiture because it was used in

furtherance of the conspiracy or was obtained as a result of the criminal


This Administration has made fighting human trafficking a significant

priority. Since FY 2001, the Division has charged 132 human traffickers –

nearly a three-fold increase over the previous three years, and incarcerated

85 defendants – an increase of more than 50 percent over the previous three

years. Over that same period, the Division has opened 250 new investigations

into trafficking allegations, more than double the number opened in the

previous three years. As of January 28, 2004, the Division had open 146

trafficking investigations, more than twice the number open in January 2001.