FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2001(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-188
- Trafficking Victims Protection Act, enacted by Congress in October of 2000
- The law creates a new "forced labor" felony that gives federal law enforcement the authority to prosecute the sophisticated forms of nonphysical coercion that traffickers use today to exploit their victims. It also requires traffickers to pay full restitution to victims and forfeit certain assets.
- Involuntary Servitude, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1584
- Peonage, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1581
WORKER EXPLOITATION CASES
- On Friday, March 23, 2001, Mr. Kill Soo Lee was arrested in American Samoa on a two count federal complaint charging violations of the slavery statutes. These charges are based on allegations that Mr. Lee held mostly female workers from Vietnam in involuntary servitude at his garment factory by threatening to enslave them over the next 20 years. This is the second case brought under the Victims of Trafficking of Violence Protection Act. U.S. v. Soo Lee
- In March of 2001, Lakireddy Bali Reddy, a landlord in Berkeley, California, pleaded guilty to trafficking women into the United States and placing them into sexual servitude. An expanded investigation revealed that Reddy and certain family members conspired to bring at lest 25 Indian laborers into the Unites States by conspiring to commit immigration fraud. U.S. v. Reddy
- In February of 2001, Michael Allen Lee pleaded guilty to using cocaine, threats and beatings to force homeless African-Americans to work in his agricultural fields in Florida. He indebted the workers through short-term loans and compelled them to harvest his land against their will.U.S. v. Lee>
- In February of 2001, Jose Tecum, an Immokalee, Florida man, was sentenced to nine years in prison for felony counts including kidnaping, slavery, and immigration violations. The defendant was found guilty by a jury of illegally smuggling a young woman from Guatemala and forcing her to work in the migrant fields of Florida and engage in sex acts.U.S. v. Tecum
- Trafficking of persons is the modern form of slavery and it is the largest manifestation of slavery today. At least 700,000 persons annually, primarily women and children, are trafficked within or across international borders. Approximately 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year. (Section 102-Congressional Findings of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act)
- The Justice Department has prosecuted 16 cases since 1999.
Today, the Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line will be permanently funded to receive complaints of suspected worker exploitation and abuse. The hotline was temporarily funded during 2000, its first year in existence.
NATIONAL WORKER EXPLOITATION COMPLAINT LINE
The toll-free line is staffed by the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section and offers foreign language translation services in numerous languages including English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin. There were a total of 75 criminal investigations opened during the hotline's first year compared with 27 criminal matters opened in 1999. The hotline, staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT, will be advertised in informational packets to be distributed to poor and immigrant communities.
The Attorney General will launch an outreach program that will work with victims' and immigrants' rights organizations, shelters, and local community groups to coordinate victims' services and prosecutorial efforts.
Today, The Guidance on New Law Concerning Trafficking in Persons will be provided to all federal prosecutors.
The Civil Rights Division's two new attorney hires will work on outreach and help train federal prosecutors on implementation of the new trafficking law, victim protection issues, and civil considerations for victims of worker exploitation.
The Attorney General directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to further work with the Civil Rights Division to increase investigative and referral efforts.
OTHER ONGOING EFFORTS
- PILOT PROJECT
The Department's Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) is funding a pilot project headed by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a private organization offering assistance to victims of trafficking in Los Angeles.
- The National Worker Exploitation Task force (WETF) is an inter-agency task force created in 1998 to investigate and prosecute cases of worker exploitation and modern day slavery in the United States.
- The WETF is comprised of the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor. The task force is co-chaired by the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division and the Solicitor of the Department of Labor and reports to the Attorney General and the Secretary of Labor. Department of Justice components include the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Attorneys' offices, the Office of Policy Development (OPD), the Office of Victims of Crime, and the Violence Against Women Office (VAWO).