FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2001
TDD (202) 514-1888
MARYLAND COUPLE CONVICTED OF ENSLAVING
TEENAGE CAMEROONIAN GIRL IN THEIR HOME
WASHINGTON, D.C -- Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and Thomas M. DiBiagio, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced today that a federal jury convicted Louisa Satia, age 36, and Kevin Waton Nanji, age 40, of Silver Spring, Maryland, of holding a teenage Cameroonian girl in involuntary servitude and of illegally harboring her in their home to use her as their domestic servant.
"Today's verdicts demonstrate that human trafficking will not be allowed nor tolerated in the United States," said Boyd. "Those who seek out and enslave the vulnerable will face stiff penalties."
Satia and Nanji were convicted of involuntary servitude, conspiracy to harbor, and harboring the girl for their own financial benefit. In addition, Satia was convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit passport fraud.
Satia and Nanji were charged in the indictment with recruiting the Cameroonian girl with false promises that she would go to school in America. Once the young girl arrived in the United States, Satia and Nanji enslaved her and forced her to be their domestic servant, using force and threats to compel her to work for them.
"Modern-day slavery should not exist in our backyard" said DiBiagio. "We will be relentless in bringing those who traffic in human beings to justice."
According to evidence presented at trial, Satia hit and assaulted the girl repeatedly, including spraying cleaning liquid in her eyes. Additionally, evidence presented at trial showed that Nanji sexually abused the girl during the 3-year period that the girl worked for the couple.
The defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years incarceration, three years supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for March 27, 2002 before the Honorable Alexander Williams Jr., United States District Judge in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mythili Raman and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Seth Rosenthal in Greenbelt, Maryland, and was the result of a lengthy joint investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Department of State, dubbed "Operation Atlantic Link."
The interagency cooperation in this case is part of the Justice Department's Human Trafficking initiative announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft in March 2001, which focuses resources across agency lines to better investigate and prosecute modern-day slavery.
Individuals can report cases of trafficking or slavery to the toll-free Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force complaint line, at 1-888-428-7581. Information about the Justice Department's anti-trafficking initiative can be found at the Department's internet web site http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/tpwetf.htm.