Lake Park woman facing human trafficking charge in case involving her niece, GBI says

Echols Co. have arrested Lake Park woman for human trafficking
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAKE PARK, Ga. (WALB) - A 30-year-old woman in Echols County is accused of bringing her juvenile niece into the country and then forcing her to work for free. It’s called labor servitude, a form of human trafficking.

The Echols County Sheriff’s Office and the GBI’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit arrested Genara Juan-Ramos on a charge of human trafficking of a minor. Investigators say Ramos promised the child a better life here in America.

“The juvenile was brought from Mexico. The family member got her over here and forced her into labor in the fields,” said Courson.

Living in South Georgia, many people do own farms and have children working on them. According to Echols County Sheriff Randy Courson, there are some details in this matter that make it a human trafficking case. According to police reports, the child was able to escape her abusive aunt and ran away seeking help from law enforcement.

“The aunt was taking her money, her paycheck basically, and charging her rent, food and basically was physically abusive to her. So, the situation was not conducive.” Courson said. “They’ll just take and exploit them and take their money basically, and use them and give them just enough to get them by. They’ll give them a little bit of money from their paycheck or whatever, and basically use them for servitude and that’s what happened in this case.”

Ramos is incarcerated at the Lowndes County Jail and is charged with two counts of 1st-degree cruelty to children and one count of human trafficking.

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Traffickers and abusers often use a lack of immigration status to exploit and control victims. In addition, language and cultural barriers may make it difficult for victims to reach out for help after experiencing victimization.”

“If you’re coming in the legal way, you’re doing it the proper way, then there shouldn’t be any issues with your money or anything, you should be in control of your money at that point,” said Courson.

Courson says this case is a little different than any normal human trafficking case as the victim was able to run away and get help.

“Hispanics would come over and basically, they promise them different things, and crew leaders and family members even in this case, they basically exploit them and use them for forced labor on these farms,” Courson said.

According to investigators, there have not been talks of deportation for the victim. But, for people who cannot run away from these situations or have a concern about forced child labor happening, the Echols County Sheriff’s Office says you can contact them at (229) 559-5603 or the GBI’s HEAT unit at (404) 270-8846.

“Somebody could call if they wanted to report that somebody was in that situation, they can contact us and remain anonymous and report the situation so we can look into it and it can be investigated,” said Courson.

The parents of the victim are still in Mexico at this time, and the aunt is expected to have a court appearance in February 2024.