A Guyanese farmer who was convicted of trafficking two Jamaican women to work on a farm and withholding their passports, is to spend a minimum of four years in prison for the offences.
Tito Browne, alias ‘Tommy’ and ‘Yankee’, appeared before Magistrate Wanda Fortune in the Linden Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
He was arrested by police on April 28, 2021, a one day after a wanted bulletin was issued for him.
On the two counts of trafficking in persons, Browne was sentenced to four years in prison.
He was also sentenced to one year on the count of withholding the passports of the two Jamaican nationals, according to a Guyana Police Force (GPF) statement.
The sentences are to run concurrently, meaning that Browne will serve a minimum of four years in prison.
He was also fined GUY$200,000 (more than J$145,000), and ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution to the victims.
The overall sentences and respective fines were delivered after an eight-month-long trial that began in December 2021 and concluded last August.
The court was told that in November 2020, one of the now victims met an individual in Jamaica, who indicated that Browne needed someone to work on his farm at Kara Kara Creek, Linden in Guyana, and was willing to pay US$5,000 for the work to be done.
The woman who got the information reportedly told the second victim about the supposed opportunity, and together they made arrangements with Browne, who promised to facilitate all their travel expenses.
The women left Jamaica on December 12, 2020, and on their arrival in Guyana, Browne instructed them to inform immigration that they would only be spending two weeks.
“Upon arriving at the campsite at Kara Kara Creek, Browne informed them that they would be spending six months there, and confiscated their passports,” the police statement said.
“The victims recounted that from the date of entry to 24th April, 2021, they worked at the Kara Kara camp, but never received any compensation from Browne,” the statement added.
The victims told police investigators that Browne would visit periodically and demand that they work more diligently.
Though he continuously promised to pay them, he never did.
They were also only allowed to contact their families from Browne’s phone whenever he visited the campsite.
The women told the police that for three weeks, no one visited them, and their supplies ran low, forcing them to leave the site.
“The victims were forced to venture from the camp in search of other campsites, walking through bushes and swamp lands until they managed to locate a logger who eventually took them to a village, where they related their story and made a police report,” the Guyanese police informed.