WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – There’s been a major win in the fight against human trafficking in Hampton Roads.
During a news conference in Norfolk Wednesday afternoon, state investigators revealed details about a Williamsburg business accused of harboring 100 illegal immigrants from El Salvador – at least one of which was a minor – working under the threat of deportation.
The youngest victim was 14 and the oldest 25, and they say the group was forced to live and work in a warehouse for a company called Magnolia Cleaning Services. A teen often worked 11-hour overnight shifts before going to school in the morning.
“I can think of no crime more heinous that someone would use and exploit a child for ill-gotten gains, sex or for labor,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares. “There is a reason why anyone in law enforcement will tell you there’s a special level of revulsion towards those that exploit our minor children.”
Homeland Security and the Hampton Roads Trafficking Task Force say they got a tip in 2021 that led to the discovery.
Ana Landaverde, Jeffrey Vaughan and George Evans were all sentenced Tuesday. Officials say the suspects also falsified several documents.
Evans on Tuesday received a sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison, while Landaverde was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison and Vaughan sentenced to four years and three months in prison. The court also ordered Vaughan and Evans to forfeit more than $3.9 million in proceeds, and Landaverde to forfeit more than $200,000.
The indictment alleged that Landaverde, Vaughan, and Evans engaged in the human trafficking of labor from Central America and benefitted from forced labor.
“What I want to say here,” said Jessica Aber, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, “is that this sends a clear message that we will not let this kind of exploitation take place in our community.”