A San Diego couple has been arrested and charged with enslaving an Indonesian woman for domestic labor.
Firas Majeed, 44, and Shatha Abbas, 38, forced their maid to work up to 18 hours a day doing housework for no pay at an apartment in suburban El Cajon, according to the US Attorney’s Office of Southern California.
The couple allegedly didn’t give the woman any days off and concealed the victim’s passport in order to prevent and restrict her liberty to move and travel, and to maintain her labor and services.
A criminal complaint filed on Friday states that the worker, who has only been identified as ‘W.M.’ doesn’t speak English and came to the US in November 2015 after years working for the same family in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations began its probe last month after the woman handed a visiting nurse a note seeking help, according to NBC.
The victim was not allowed to leave the home, except to throw away the family’s trash.
Agents removed the woman from the home on March 22 shortly after healthcare workers reported to the Human Trafficking Resource Center that the victim was seen in the back of the residence and closely monitored, documents state.
The note the woman gave to a nurse prompted her rescue.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy praised the victim for having the courage to seek help, and the healthcare workers who responded to her note.
‘Human trafficking is a deplorable practice that amounts to modern slavery, and many of these victims are hiding in plain sight,’ Duffy said.
Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego said the department ‘will not tolerate any form of human exploitation’, which ‘has no place in a modern society’.
Majeed and Abbas are scheduled for a preliminary examination on April 21.
If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the counts of forced labor and trafficking.
They also face up to five years for the document servitude charge, according to NBC. Abbas was released Friday, but her husband remained in federal custody.
Via Daily Mail