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Bertram couple pleads guilty to child trafficking

Gary Wiggins, Meghann Wiggins

Gary Wiggins, 54, and Meghann Wiggins, 38, each pleaded guilty to six counts of child trafficking for using youths at their faith-based rehabilitation and education facility in Bertram to perform labor for profit in their landscaping and moving businesses. Burnet County Jail photos

Gary Wiggins, 54, and Meghann Wiggins, 38, of Bertram each pleaded guilty to child trafficking charges in February for using children under their care to perform labor for profit. The children were residents of Joshua Home, a faith-based counseling and education facility near Bertram.

According to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, the pleas followed a lengthy investigation into the affairs of Joshua Home Ministries, which runs Joshua Home, stretching back to 2018. The couple was indicted on Feb. 23, 2024, on multiple first-degree felony human trafficking charges. Before their cases could go to trial, they each pleaded to six counts of the “traffic of persons under 18 years old-forced labor.”

Under the Wiggins’ plea deals, each will be required to undergo a period of deferred adjudication probation for 10 years. Gary Wiggins will be required to serve 90 days in jail. During their probation periods, the couple will be prohibited from having any role in a residential facility for children and be required to make regular reports to probation officers. They also will have to pay $100,000 in restitution to the six victims.

According to a BCSO media release, the Wiggins operated Joshua Home as a residential counseling and education facility for children with behavioral issues in exchange for monthly tuition from parents. However, children were often kept in undesirable conditions and forced to perform unpaid work in the couple’s businesses. 

“The investigation revealed that several of the children were used as labor in the Wiggins’ for-profit landscaping and moving businesses while being provided a substandard ‘education’ and being subjected to inappropriate and excessive disciplinary measures,” stated BCSO Capt. Tom Dillard in the media release. “The victims were also subjected to isolation, lack of medical care, restricted communication with their families, and lack of opportunities for recreation or entertainment.”

Trafficking charges are broad and can encompass an array of crimes, 33rd/424th District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee told

“These boys came from different places around the nation, and they often came from troubled backgrounds,” he said. “When you’re talking about trafficking, usually people are thinking of sex trafficking, but there are other components. If somebody is being used for labor, that can also be trafficking.”

The Wiggins had similar operations in Missouri and Alabama that were considered in the investigation, McAfee said. The BCSO and McAfee’s office were assisted by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Texas Workforce Commission. A special thanks was given to prosecutor Kirsta Melton, founder of the Institute to Combat Trafficking, who orchestrated and assembled the case against Meghann and Gary Wiggins.

Editor’s Note: Joshua Home is not to be confused with His Joshua House, a faith-based substance abuse treatment facility in Kingsland.

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