OAKLAND – A federal jury convicted Job Torres Hernandez of charges that he obtained forced labor from victims and harbored illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent-in-Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. The conviction follows a ten day trial before the Honorable Jeffrey S. White, U.S. District Judge.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that since at least May 2015, Torres, 38, of Hayward, Calif., owned construction companies in Northern California at which he employed workers to whom he paid little to nothing for their labor. Torres recruited workers from Mexico to work for his construction companies and then refused to pay them the wages they had earned. Further, Torres knew the workers had come to, entered, and remained in the United States in violation of the law; he kept the workers in squalid conditions and shielded them from detection while making them work as long as 24 consecutive hours at a time. Many victims testified at trial, with the assistance of an interpreter, about how Torres treated them. Witnesses testified that Torres paid them far less than what he had promised to pay them, and when they complained, Torres threatened them or their family members. Specifically, the evidence demonstrated Torres warned his victims that if they reported him, then he would harm them physically, have associates in Mexico harm their family, and have them deported. The evidence also demonstrated that Torres told his victims that if they went to police or filed suit against him, no one would believe them. In addition, Torres housed dozens of workers on makeshift beds in a commercial warehouse in Hayward, Calif., and other properties including a garage in Hayward. The workers had limited access to toilets and showers, and at times, the properties were locked, preventing the workers from leaving. Torres harbored these individuals for the purpose of obtaining an advantage in the construction industry and for his private financial gain.
On December 6, 2018, a federal grand jury handed down a superseding indictment, charging Torres with one count of harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (B)(i), and one count of forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1589(a). The jury convicted Torres of both counts.
Judge White ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to take Torres into custody immediately, pending sentencing. Judge White scheduled Torres’s sentencing hearing for June 25, 2019. Torres now faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, for harboring illegal aliens, and 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, for the forced labor violation. In addition, the court may order Torres to serve an additional term of supervised release and to pay forfeiture and restitution, if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ravi T. Narayan and Jonathan U. Lee are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Quant, Jessica Rodriguez Gonzalez, and Kimberly Richardson. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Human Trafficking Unit; Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division; and the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit.