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The N&O had an insane story yesterday
out of Fayetteville, where police had arrested four (and were seeking six others) on charges that they used child slave labor to run a series of fish markets.
WHAT IT MEANS:
- “Lt. Sean E. Swain, public information officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, said that the department got a report in February 2017 that ‘an alternative religious group’ was living on and around a property commonly referred to as McCollum Ranch, at 5953 McCollum Road in Godwin. The leader of the religious group is John C. McCollum, who has been a preacher in Fayetteville since at least the late 1980s.”
- “‘The investigation initiated by the Sheriff’s Office based on the information provided in the report revealed that John C McCollum and others were operating at least three John C’s Fish Markets and mobile grills in Fayetteville, and one John C’s Fish Market in Lumberton, in an effort to profit and additionally fund the communal property,’ the release said. ‘Several former residents of the McCollum Ranch, during interviews, said that McCollum and others were holding children, ages ranging from 9 years old to 17 years old, in involuntary servitude. The children had to work full time in the fish markets with little to no compensation. The children are performing labor such as lifting heavy boxes/shipments (reportedly some weighing approximately 50 lbs), keeping fish iced, cutting fish and cleaning; additionally, many of the children were performing construction and maintenance on the mobile grills after fish market hours. The former residents also informed investigators that the children were not attending school and were being denied adequate education and care.’”
- “During the investigation, Swain said, officers found that Brenda Joyce Hall, a resident of McCollum Ranch, was running Knowledge Home School, which police said had provided fraudulent high school transcripts for residents of the ranch to enroll them in online programs at Wake Technical Community College and other schools. The records were then used to secure financial aid that was used by the criminal operation at McCollum Ranch, Swain said.”
For once, I’m speechless.