Georgia Couple Charged with Human Trafficking and Immigration Violations for Exploiting Woman from Swaziland
A federal grand jury in Atlanta has indicted an Ellenwood, Ga., husband and wife, Juna Gwendolyn Babb, 54, and Michael J. Babb, 53, on charges of conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude, which is confiscating someone’s passport and visa, and harboring an alien for financial gain, the Justice Department announced.
The indictment was handed down last week by a federal grand jury in Atlanta and remained sealed until the defendants were arrested today. They are expected to make their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker.
According to the indictment and information presented in court: between about March 2005, and continuing until on or about Feb. 7, 2007, Juna Gwendolyn Babb and Michael J. Babb allegedly conspired to compel the labor of the victim by enticing her to come to the United States from the Kingdom of Swaziland, Africa. The indictment alleges they falsely promised the victim a lucrative, short-term opportunity to provide catering services at the wedding of a family member of theirs. However, upon the victim’s arrival to the United States, the couple allegedly compelled her labor as a housekeeper and nanny in their home through the use of debt and threats of arrest and imprisonment.
After the victim’s arrival in the United States, the defendants confiscated her passport and return airline ticket, and told the victim that she owed them a debt for the costs of her travel to the United States. The Babbs allegedly then compelled the victim’s labor by using the debt that they claimed the victim owed them, and by threatening her with arrest and imprisonment by immigration authorities once her tourist visa expired. The couple then allegedly required the victim to clean the homes of their friends and associates, and to assist with Michael Babb's construction business. The indictment also alleges that the defendants required the victim to work long hours every day of the week, for which the victim was grossly underpaid on those few occasions that the Babbs paid her at all for her labor and services.
An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and ICE. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Gabay-Smith and Richard Moultrie Jr., and Trial Attorney Karima Maloney of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.