OAKLAND (KRON) – On June 25 a U.S. District Judge in Oakland sentenced Job Torres Hernandez to 8 and a half years in prison following a conviction on March 18. The charges included obtaining forced labor from victims, and harboring illegal immigrants for commercial advantage or private financial gain. In addition, Hernandez was ordered to pay $919,738.64 of unpaid wages in restitution.
A 10-day trial revealed that, since May 2015, Torres’ construction companies knowingly hired illegal workers from Mexico and paid them little to nothing. The trial also reviled that the workers were kept in “squalid” conditions and made to work for as long as 24 consecutive hours at a time.
“Undocumented immigrant communities within the United States—often times and evident in this case—are commonly preyed upon by transnational criminal organizations and inhumane criminals, like Torres, who are motivated by greed by exploiting vulnerable people,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge (San Francisco and Northern California). “HSI has always prioritized identifying, rescuing and providing services & benefits to victims of crime regardless of citizenship and is committed to bringing criminals to justice.”
Witness took the stand and testified that Torres promised pay, but delivered far less. After complaining, Torres would threatened them, and family members, with physical harm and deportation, making them believe that reports of abuse would go unheard from police and government officials.
Living conditions were described as makeshift beds in a Hayward commercial warehouse and other properties, which included a garage in Hayward. The workers had limited access to toilets and showers, and were locked in at times preventing them from leaving.
“It’s important to know that Homeland Security Investigations does not initiate an investigation because of someone’s citizenship. We initiate an investigation because of alleged criminal activity,” Spradlin said. “It does not matter to us whether a person is undocumented. It’s our job to help victims and bring criminals to justice.”
Torres was taken into custody on the day the jury rendered its verdict, and he remains in custody pending assignment to a Bureau of Prisons facility, according to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was also sentenced to a three year term of supervised release to begin at the conclusion of his prison term.