Contractor Ricardo Batres Charged with Labor Trafficking, Revealing Immigrant Worker Abuse

By Filiberto Nolasco Gomez, Workday Minnesota

September 26, 2018 - MINNEAPOLIS

This story has been updated with a statement from Reuter Walton.

Yesterday local authorities executed a search warrant and arrested Ricardo Batres, the owner of American Contractors and Associates (ACA).

At a Wednesday press conference, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the charges against Batres.

“We have charged Batres, 46, of Crystal, with one count of labor trafficking, one count of insurance fraud and one count of theft by swindle. We allege that he sought out undocumented workers as employees of his contracting company to do framing carpentry and installing sheet rock. Because they were undocumented and fearful of deportation, Mr. Batres paid them less, worked them harder, put some of them in overcrowded housing without hot water and did not provide medical benefits,” Freeman said. “We will vigorously prosecute Mr. Batres and we hope this serves as a warning to developers and general contractors to not turn a blind eye to this kind of illegal activity.

The charges are the result of a lengthy investigation into workplace abuses documented by workers with the support of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), a South Minneapolis low-wage worker-led organization that fights for fair wages and working conditions in the Twin Cities metro area. Information was also provided to the commerce department’s Fraud Bureau by labor unions and The Advocates for Human Rights. Notably, this is one of the first times a labor trafficking charge has been brought in Minnesota.

“Human trafficking yields an estimated $150 billion worldwide each year,” said Robin Phillips, Executive Director of The Advocates for Human Rights. “Minnesota is not immune to ... human rights abuse, which relies on violence and threats to force people to work without pay, in dangerous conditions and in fear. Human trafficking thrives when systems fail to hold those who profit from exploitation accountable. Today’s charges send an important message that Minnesota will not stand by when workers are victimized.”


Bartes’ ACA worked on construction projects led by Reuter Walton, one of the largest Developers and General Contractors in Minneapolis, and Lennar, the single largest home-builder (link is external) in the Twin Cities metro area for every year since 2006. At the time of publication a representative Lennar could not be reached.

Read the full story here.