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Tacoma Couple Indicted on Forced Labor Charges

WASHINGTON – A Tacoma, Wash., couple was charged today with forcing a Filipino woman into servitude for over a year at their former residence in Culver City, Calif., the Justice Department announced.

According to the seven-count indictment, Elizabeth Jackson and James Jackson, who currently reside in Tacoma, violated federal law in 2001 and 2002 by compelling a Filipino woman to work as their domestic servant under inhumane conditions and with grossly inadequate compensation. The couple used physical force, threats of deportation, and unfairly imputed debts to extract the victim’s labor. The indictment, announced by Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, further states that the couple repeatedly lied to federal investigators in order to conceal their crimes.

The Jacksons each face charges of conspiracy to engage in human trafficking, peonage, forced labor, withholding identification documents for the purpose of human trafficking, alien harboring for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and two charges of making false statements to federal investigators. If convicted of all charges, the Jacksons each face up to 65 years in prison. Additionally, each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum sentence of post-release supervision of three years.

An indictment is an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The prosecution of individuals involved in human trafficking is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Justice Department has charged more than 300 human traffickers and secured more than 200 convictions. From 2001 through 2005, the Justice Department convicted over twice as many persons for trafficking compared to the previous five years.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Labor, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by attorneys from the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.