Trial scheduled in human trafficking case | Local News

The trial is set to begin this week for a Hunt County man facing a felony charge of human trafficking.

Some of the alleged victims had previously indicated that Jeffery Barrett was not responsible for the allegations.

Jury selection is scheduled for Monday morning at the 354th District Court. Barrett faces an indictment of continuing child trafficking. He pleaded not guilty. He remains in custody at the Hunt County Detention Center in lieu of $650,000 bond.

A misdemeanor charge of cruelty to farm animals was dismissed in December.

Barrett’s wife, Barbara Barrett of Greenville, was convicted in September 2021 of the same charge and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Jeffery Barrett has been held at the prison since September 25, 2017.

The Barretts were accused of abusing and neglecting their adopted children while forcing them to work in a puppy mill attached to their home.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime Division assisted the Hunt County District Attorney in the prosecution of the Barretts.

The charge is a first-degree felony, punishable on conviction by a maximum sentence of five to 99 years to life in prison.

On September 16, 2021, Assistant Attorney General Brooke Grona-Robb filed a Notice of Potential Mitigating Information in Jeffery Barrett’s case, noting how she met three of the children who were the alleged victims in the case.

“She said Barbara Barrett was responsible for the Jeffery Barrett accusations,” Grona Robb said. “She said Jeffery Barrett would never have done any of the things he’s accused of without Barbara.”

The couple’s lawsuit has been ongoing for more than four years.

On September 25, 2017, the Texas SPCA joined Hunt County Constable for Precinct 1, Terry Jones, and the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office to seize 117 animals from a home on County Road 3103 off Interstate 30.

Jones is currently the Hunt County Sheriff.

The agency reported that the majority of the animals, 100 dogs and puppies, were housed in a metal addition to the property’s brick home and were found living in cages, crates and kennels, up to three dogs each. 15 other dogs and puppies and two cats were found inside the residence. The Barretts reportedly told investigators they were selling the dogs.

The puppy mill investigation was followed by allegations that the couple coerced the children into running the business.

The Barretts were re-arrested on August 2, 2018, following the investigation by the Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime Section of the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Lawyers Jessica McDonald, who represented Barbara Barrett, and Frederick Shelton – Jeffery Barrett’s former defense attorney – filed multiple motions in the crime case, seeking the indictments to be quashed, alleging the charges brought against the couple were unconstitutionally too broad and vague.

In response, prosecutors filed additional allegations against the Barretts, claiming the couple also sexually abused and exploited their children.

The Barretts appealed to the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas. A hearing on the appeal was held in November 2019 and the court dismissed the appeals.

An amendment to the indictments filed on September 1, 2021 alleged that the Barretts “knowingly trafficked” the four children “by force, fraud, or coercion” to “engage in forced labor or services” while the couple received a benefit by participating in the business.