A Fresno man is facing prison time for what the District Attorney’s Office said is one of the first cases of its kind in California. On Friday Efren Alvarez was convicted of labor trafficking, which is essentially forced labor.
Alvarez was out on bail, but after the verdict he was ordered to be held in jail until his sentencing. He now faces up to 15 years in prison.
According to the DA’s office, it started in 2016 when three Mexican immigrants came to work for Alvarez.
In a press release from the DA’s office they claim Alvarez threatened to harm the workers and report them to immigration if they did not continue working for him.
Manuel Cunha, president of Nisei Farmers League, said immigrants are often targeted.
“These human traffickers, these bad people know that they can go after these people because if the people go to Homeland Security or go to somebody, they’re going to haul them off,” Cunha said. Monday.
The DA’s office said the victims in this case sought help from the United Farm Workers, who then reached out to law enforcement.
Cunha said there are options for people in this situation. “I would not, I would not just sit there and let these guys abuse you. You’ve got to get some type of help is you can,” he said.
Cunha said people who don’t feel comfortable with law enforcement can reach out to church or community leaders. He said this conviction is a step in the right direction, and hopes it sends a message.
Alvarez will be back in court for his sentencing Oct 1.