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National Worker Exploitation Task Force

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The U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, co-chairs of the National Worker Exploitation Task Force, have taken the lead in prosecuting trafficking and worker abuse cases, balancing the special needs of trafficking victims with swift punishment for traffickers. Some highlights:

  • In April 1999, seven defendants were sentenced to jail and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for enslaving dozens of Mexican women and girls, some as young as fourteen, in brothel houses in Florida and the Carolinas, through beatings, rapes, and threats. The lead defendant was sentenced to fifteen years incarceration. Federal prosecutors and agents worked with an immigrant advocacy group to obtain shelter, clothing, and jobs for the victims, who have legal status and are working in Florida.

  • In the spring of 1999, three defendants were convicted of slavery and immigration violations arising from their enslavement of Mexican and Guatemalan farmworkers in the agricultural fields of southern Florida through threats of force. The lead defendant received a sentence of three years incarceration. The victims received legal status and are working in Florida, where they participate in a farmworker advocacy group.

  • In October 1999, three defendants were convicted for luring ten young women from their homes in China to Saipan, CNMI, where they were enslaved in a karaoke bar brothel and forced into prostitution through threats and beatings. The lead defendant received a sentence of nine years incarceration. Federal prosecutors and agents helped the victims obtain legal status, jobs, and housing.

  • In January 2000, the Justice Department’s Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission entered into settlement agreements with a Minnesota hotel, which had unlawfully retaliated against undocumented workers attempting to unionize. The INS subsequently granted the undocumented workers deferred action for two years.

  • In May 2000, the federal government obtained convictions against four garment shop operators in Manhattan’s Chinatown for lying to Department of Labor Wage and Hour investigators. The garment manufacturers, who engaged in widespread wage violations and kept several sets of records so as to deceive inspectors, were assessed criminal fines, ordered to pay back wages as restitution, and given probation.

  • In the summer of 2000, a Nigerian couple was convicted of slavery and other offenses for holding a young girl as a domestic servant in their home in New York City. The defendants were sentenced to eleven years and twelve years incarceration and ordered to pay their victim over $250,000 in restitution. The victim is living and working in New York.

To report a case of forced labor, call the
National Worker Exploitation Complaint Line,
free of charge


For more information, visit

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Updated August 6, 2015