Global Horizons Inc. and several California Farms are under fire for human trafficking, according to lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to lawsuits, Global Horizons lured over 200 Thai workers into the United States, promising them steady agricultural jobs, good pay, and quality housing. Instead, company officials confiscated their passports and threatened them with deportation if they complained.
Workers were housed in dilapidated buildings, often infested with rats and other pests, and faced threats of deportation as well as physical violence. Workers were also often not fed, with many workers reporting having to eat leaves off of trees. While the workers were guarded, one was able to escape in the night, flagging down passing strangers for help, eventually getting aid from the proper authorities.
Global Horizons contracted labor throughout the Pacific coast, in Oregon, Hawaii, and California. Two California farms, Valley Fruit Orchards and Green Acre Farms are named as defendants in the lawsuit, with EEOC officials claiming that they ignored complaints from workers and were complicit in the abuses of Global Horizons. While Global Horizons has refused to make an official statement, spokespersons from both farms have denied their culpability and placed the blame for the workers’ abuse on Global Horizons.
Human trafficking remains a major problem in the United States. While human trafficking cases often revolve around forced labor or sexual slavery, it is a common practice in the agricultural sector, as traffickers take advantage of H-2A laws. The Global Horizons case, however, is the largest agricultural human trafficking case to date, according to the EEOC.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer