WASHINGTON - Jose Pepe Navarrete was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for his role in a labor trafficking scheme that enslaved Mexican and Guatemalan nationals as farm-workers. Navarrete previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, harboring undocumented foreign nationals for financial gain, possession of false documents, and other offenses arising from his role in the trafficking ring.
In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Judge John E. Steele of the Middle District of Florida ordered Navarrete to pay $239,882.46 in restitution to the victims of the scheme.
Five other defendants previously pleaded guilty to felony charges in connection with the scheme and are awaiting sentencing. Two of these defendants, Cesar and Geovanni Navarrete, pleaded guilty to beating, threatening, restraining and locking workers in trucks to compel their labor as agricultural workers. Cesar and Geovanni Navarrete are scheduled to be sentenced in December 5, 2008.
The prosecution of human trafficking offenses is a top priority of the Justice Department. In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years. In fiscal year 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.
This case was investigated by agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and investigators from the Collier County Sheriffs Department. Victim assistance was provided by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Susan French of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Molloy of the Middle District of Florida.