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Tacoma Woman Sentenced for Holding Domestic Servant in Forced Labor

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice announced today that a Tacoma, Wash., woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for holding a woman in forced labor as a domestic servant. Elizabeth Jackson was sentenced today to three years imprisonment. Jackson previously pleaded guilty to holding a Filipino domestic worker in forced labor.

In 2001, Jackson arranged to have the victim, a Filipino woman, brought to the United States. When the victim arrived in the United States, Elizabeth Jackson confiscated her passport and put her to work for approximately16 hours per day, seven days per week. The victim received no more than $400 per month for this labor. From 2001 to 2002, Jackson compelled the victim’s labor through threats of abuse of the legal process. Jackson frequently threatened to have the victim deported if she ever left Jackson’s employ without permission.

In the same court today, James Jackson, Elizabeth Jackson’s husband, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and assessed a fine of $5,000 for harboring an alien in the couple’s Culver City, Calif., home. James Jackson previously pleaded guilty to this crime and admitted that from approximately August 2001 to February 2002, he permitted the victim to reside in their home, even though he knew that her visa had expired.

“These defendants used their power and affluence to coerce a vulnerable woman into their personal service for several months,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This type of behavior is a clear violation of federal law. The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting this type of modern-day slavery.”

Human trafficking prosecutions such as this one are a top priority of the Department of Justice.  In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years.  In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.

This case was investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Labor. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Douglas Kern and Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Kline of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.