Local News

Criminals Target Hispanic Workers

Posted July 13, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Imagine that you have a lot of cash, don't speak English and fear talking to police investigators. That is the profile of thousands of migrant laborers in our area, and it makes them easy pickings for criminals.

Hispanic migrant workers have become targets for a new wave of beatings and robberies. There have been 20 reported attacks in Chatham, Lee, Harnett, Wake, Johnston and Sampson counties in the past month alone.

This week an incident occurred at a farm in Harnett County. Robbers apparently broke in through a window while two men were inside.

Esquivel Faustino says he and a friend were robbed of $240, struck in the head and tied up with a rope.

Harnett County investigators are pooling their resources with surrounding counties, but they have not found any major leads.

"It's happening in Chatham, Lee," Harnett County Police Capt. J.T. Lamm said. "We think those could be connected to the ones that we're having."

Investigators speculate that some of the attacks in the region could be copy cat crimes. Officers started passing out fliers with warnings, and some workers are staying up all night to prevent future incidents.

A number of the departments working this case have Spanish speaking officers, and the ones that do not use translators.