Carline Bontemps Ceneus, 32, of Miami, her brother Cabioch Bontemps, 34, of Lacrosse, and Willy Paul Edouard, 47, of Miami, were arrested earlier this summer after being indicted on charges of conspiring to commit forced labor and visa fraud. Ceneus was also charged with document servitude.
The alleged scheme was discovered when Alachua County Sheriff’s Detective Tyson Elliott received a tip from a nongovernmental social services provider who noticed the workers’ basic needs were not being met.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the scheme involved persuading 34 workers to travel from their native Haiti to Florida to take jobs the suspects reportedly told them were well-paying.
Specifically, federal officials said Ceneus and Edouard arranged for the workers to pay recruitment fees. The money for the fees apparently came from loan sharks who secured the loans with the victims’ property in Haiti.
Once the group arrived in Florida, officials said the suspects confiscated their passports and forced them to work on farms by threatening to report them to local agencies or threatening to have them deported to face their unpaid debts for their recruitment fees.