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Press Release

Illinois Family Members Sentenced for Kidnapping, Forced Labor and Conspiracy for Coercing Two Minors and a Third Victim in Years-Long Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Domingo Francisco-Juan, 44, was sentenced today to life in prison for kidnapping, forced labor and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and forced labor. The court also ordered Francisco-Juan to pay $50,000 in restitution to a victim. His codefendant Lorenza Domingo-Castaneda, 35, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for forced labor and conspiracy to commit forced labor, and also ordered her to pay over $80,000 in restitution to three victims.

A third defendant, Catarina Domingo-Juan, 41, was previously sentenced on Dec. 18, 2023, to 240 months in prison for forced labor and conspiracy to commit forced labor, and was ordered to pay over $80,000 in restitution to three victims. All three defendants are siblings and Guatemalan nationals.

“Forced labor crimes exploit children and some of the most vulnerable members of society and strike at the heart of human dignity,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Francisco-Juan’s sentence is historic, marking the first life sentence in over a decade in a forced labor case under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. These victims, two of them children, were subjected to physical and sexual abuse to compel them to work as domestic servants, hotel maids and factory laborers. We are grateful to the survivors of these crimes for their tremendous courage in coming forward and reporting the violence and abuse they suffered. The sentences imposed in this case should send a message to human traffickers everywhere that there will be severe consequences for their actions and the Justice Department stands ready to hold them accountable for their violent and coercive schemes.”

“The partnerships across all levels of government were imperative in bringing these individuals to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris for the Central District of Illinois. “We appreciate the dedication and time that all the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved have committed to this case. We also commend the various victim services organizations, both private and public, who provided support and services to the victims in this case. Labor traffickers are insidious in the way they control their victims, and we will continue the fight to protect endangered members of our society from these horrific crimes.”

“Today’s sentences shine a bright light on the very real presence of forced labor crimes in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Fitzgerald of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago. “HSI special agents will continue to fight against the exploitation of the vulnerable and support victims by providing critical resources and services. Well done to the HSI special agents and our law enforcement community partners for bringing these predators to justice.”

According to court documents, the defendants, who are siblings, conspired to bring one minor victim from Guatemala to the United States to work in Domingo-Castaneda and Domingo-Juan’s homes between December 2015 and January 2021. Francisco-Juan accompanied the minor victim into the United States after falsely assuring the victim’s mother that the victim would receive a better education and opportunities within the United States if permitted to travel with him. Domingo-Juan took custody of the minor victim after falsely claiming to government officials that she was the minor victim’s relative. 

Instead of providing the minor victim with access to an education and better opportunities within the United States, the defendants cut off the minor victim from her family and compelled her into working around the clock for their benefit. Domingo-Castaneda and Domingo-Juan took the money that the minor victim earned working outside of their homes, and Francisco-Juan benefitted by receiving the victim’s domestic services around the homes.

Court documents also show that Domingo-Castaneda and Domingo-Juan conspired to compel the labor and services of a separate minor victim and an adult victim in their homes and in area businesses between December 2018 and March 2021. Similar to the first minor victim, Domingo-Castaneda used false promises of a better life and education within the United States to lure the minor victim away from her mother and entice her into traveling to the United States. Instead of following through with her promises, Domingo-Castaneda, along with Domingo-Juan, compelled the minor victim and the adult victim to provide domestic services around their homes and required both victims to give them all of the earnings they made while working at area businesses. 

Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, with assistance from the Champaign Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Trial Attorney Kate Alexander of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres for the Central District of Illinois prosecuted the case.

Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report that information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about human trafficking, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. Information on the Justice Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.

Updated April 8, 2024

Topics
Civil Rights
Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-412