FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1996                        (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888
                                 
        FOUR MEN CHARGED WITH ENSLAVING MIGRANT WORKERS


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Four men serving as crew leaders have
been indicted for recruiting and forcing migrant laborers to work
against their will, the Justice Department announced today.

     A 25-count indictment, handed down on October 9 and unsealed
today in U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina,
charged Mexican national Miguel Angel Flores, a farm labor
contractor, and his employees Sebastian Gomez, Andres Ixgoy, and
Nolasco Casta¤eda, with threatening and physically abusing
migrant workers in order to force them to perform agricultural
labor.  The indictment was placed under seal to allow Federal
officials sufficient time to apprehend the defendants.  Both
Flores and Gomez were arrested this morning, and the remaining
arrests are expected soon.

     "Today's case shows that slavery is not a thing of the
past," said Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General for
Civil Rights.  "No person should be denied the right to freedom,
and we will continue to prosecute these cases for as long as
necessary."

     According to the indictment, since the 1980's, Flores has
provided labor to farmers to grow and harvest crops primarily in
South Carolina and Florida.  Flores and the other defendants
allegedly recruited Guatemalan and Mexican citizens from nearby
the Mexican border, and smuggled them under dangerous conditions
to labor camps in the area of Manning, South Carolina.  While
working at the camps, the victims were threatened, told that if
they attempted to leave they would be killed, and were subjected
to occasional beatings.  Flores and the defendants frequently
displayed pistols and rifles.

     The indictment comes as the result of a long-term
investigation by the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Border
Patrol, and the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of
Labor.

     "These indictments send a clear signal that the Department
of Labor takes violations of labor laws seriously, and when they
cross the line into criminal misconduct, we will not hesitate to
help prosecute these crimes," said Wage and Hour Administrator
Maria Echaveste.  "The allegations in this indictment indicate a
disregard for the basic human rights of these farm workers that
can not and will not be tolerated."

     "Alien smuggling must be stopped and the human misery and
abuse that they cause must be ended," said Billy Kring, U.S.
Border Patrol Miami Sector Chief.  "INS will continue cooperative
efforts to stop these activities and bring these perpetrators to
justice."

     The indictment also alleged that the defendants charged the
workers a "smuggling fee" which would have to be repaid through
labor.  However, the laborers were given such little pay and
charged exorbitant prices for essential goods provided by Flores
that repayment was virtually unattainable.

     The defendants are charged under a variety of federal
criminal statutes, involving violations of civil rights, labor,
and immigration laws.  These charges include conspiracy,
subjecting persons to involuntary servitude, extortion, using
firearm in the commission of a violent crime, alien smuggling,
and alien harboring.  Defendant Sebastian Gomez, who had
previously been deported, was also charged with unlawful entry
into the United States following deportation and violations of
labor statutes.

     "Today's arrest stems from exhaustive efforts by government
agencies who worked together to seek justice," added Patrick.
  
     If convicted on all counts Gomez faces 172 years in prison
and Flores faces 192 years in prison.           # # #
96-556