Man accused of labor trafficking pleads guilty

Updated: November 18, 2019 10:08 PM

A man accused of exploiting undocumented immigrants on construction sites in Minnesota pleaded guilty a day before his trial was set to begin in the state's first labor trafficking case.

Ricardo Batres, 47, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to charges for labor trafficking and insurance fraud for allegedly denying employees workers' compensation and health benefits.


Prosecutors say he threatened to report the workers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they complained.

More from KSTP: 

Twin Cities developer, contractor facing trial on labor trafficking charges

Accused labor trafficker could face new charges following 5 INVESTIGATES report

Weeks before trial, suspected labor trafficker spotted on developer's job site

The criminal case made waves in the state's construction industry as advocates demanded, and developers promised, changes in their hiring process to make sure sub-contractors were not exploiting workers.

"This is about an entire industry that is waking up to a problem it has," labor attorney Burt Johnson said. 

Batres was charged last year but was spotted by 5 INVESTIGATES earlier this fall back on the job site of a major Twin Cities developer while he was out on bond.

That developer, Reuter Walton, said that Batres used an alias to gain access to a development site in Richfield.

Batres declined to comment on his employment or his pending criminal case at that time.

He is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 15. 

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Joe Augustine & Beth McDonough

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