Smuggler Forced Guatemalan Children into Hard Labor at U.S. Chicken Factories

Migrants were forced to work at chicken factories like this. Photo via FBI.
Migrants were forced to work at chicken factories like this. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Arnold Castillo-Serrano promised Guatemalan parents that a happy life awaited their children in the United States as he charged upwards of $15,000 to smuggle the young people to America.

But what awaited the children was something far from happiness, according to the FBI.

The bureau said children were smuggled across the border and forced to live in a trailer park and work on egg farms.

“We think the scheme was going on as early as 2011,” said Special Agent Matthew Komar, an investigator on the case from the FBI’s Cleveland Division. “The youngest trafficking victim we found was 14 years old.”

The victims were taken to farms, where they worked 12-hour shifts cleaning up chicken coops, loading crates of chickens and removing their beaks.

“When they were paid,” Komar said, “victims gave their checks to Castillo-Serrano or his associates, and they got back approximately $50. When some of the juveniles complained, they were threatened physically, and their families in Guatemala were threatened if they didn’t work.”

Castillo-Serrano, 33, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in June.

“This case is ongoing,” Komar said. “We believe there are still people who were complicit in the scheme. He added, “When people think of human trafficking, they usually think of sex trafficking. But forced labor is real, and it is eye opening when you see the damage it can do.”

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