Founder Of Private School Hid 75 Foreign Students From Department Of Homeland Security In Athletic Trafficking Operation
Several students went missing after Evelyn Mack brought them to the U.S. with the promise of scholarships.
November 19, 2019 at 5:56 pm
Most are familiar with the concept of human trafficking for sex or labor. But a founder of a private school in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a lesser-known form of trafficking.
According to WSOCTV, Evelyn Mack founded the Evelyn Mack Academy and promised scholarship offers for foreign teens who wanted to play sports at top American schools. The athletes, however, were reportedly shipped off to other schools in exchange for money. An operation of this sort is known as athletic trafficking according to WFMY News 2. Mack acted in tandem with the predatory luring tactics of athletic traffickers by offering money and a quality education but delivering something much less promising.
Mack reportedly hid 75 foreign student-athletes from the Department of Homeland Security starting in 2014 and made $75,000 after bringing them to the U.S. illegally.
"She indicated that foreign nationals were reportedly enrolled and maintaining a full course of study at EMA when, as she then knew, this information was false," a federal complaint states.
"She was somewhat disappointed, but she was very calm and very reflective about it,” Mack’s attorney, James Exum, told WSOCTV following the 65-year-old's sentencing hearing on Tuesday. “All things considered, it was a fair sentence."
According to the complaint, basketball coaches and recruiters for various organizations worked with Mack "to knowingly and intentionally circumvent compliance with the student visa program."
"Because of Mack's status [as a primary designated school official], many persons contacted her about foreign nationals, many of whom were minors, that these persons wanted to enter the United States unlawfully and without complying with the terms of the student visa program," the complaint states.
The students, who were mostly from Africa, reportedly ended up in towns more than 100 miles away after being sold to coaches and recruiters, the New York Post reported. Some of the students are still unaccounted for. One student is currently homeless.
The school was shut down in 2017, but the whereabouts of many of the coaches and recruiters have yet to be known.
“Certainly it starts in a certain sense with Miss Mack, but the real culprits are the coaches. And they’re still out there,” Exum told WSOCTV. “They’re free, and they’re still doing the same thing all over the country.”
Mack isn't the only athletic trafficker to be caught in recent years.
In another human trafficking case reported by ESPN, a runner named Moninda Marube became a victim after coming to the U.S. from Kenya in hopes of winning sponsorships. Marube's agent in Minnesota allegedly took his passport and visa, forced him to live in a single room with several other runners and withheld his winnings.
According to the International Labour Organization, there were more than 40 million victims of various forms of human trafficking globally in 2016.
Human traffickers make profits of about $150 billion a year, according to Human Rights First.