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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Milwaukee trafficking couple 6 years in prison for forcing a woman to work as their domestic servant for 19 years

MILWAUKEE - A Brookfield, Wis., couple who kept a domestic servant in their home under conditions of servitude for nearly two decades was resentenced in federal court Tuesday to six years in prison. This sentence resulted from a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI.

Jefferson Calimlim Sr. and his wife, Elnora, both medical doctors in Milwaukee, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, Eastern District of Wisconsin, to six years in prison for forcing a woman to work as their domestic servant and illegally harboring her for 19 years in their Brookfield home.

The Calimlims, who were initially sentenced Nov. 16, 2006, to four years in prison each, were resentenced June 9 after the Court of Appeals identified legal errors in the initial sentencing and remanded the case to the district court for resentencing.

On May 26, 2006, the Calimlims were convicted by a Milwaukee federal jury for using threats of serious harm and physical restraint against a Filipino woman to obtain her services, in violation of federal law.

According to evidence presented at trial, Jefferson Calimlim Sr. and his wife recruited and brought the victim from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1985 when she was 19 years old. In September 2004, ICE and FBI agents removed the victim, then age 38, from the Calimlim's Brookfield residence through the execution of a federal search warrant. The victim testified that for 19 years she was hidden in the Calimlim's home, forbidden from going outside, and told that she would be arrested, imprisoned and deported if she were discovered. She was not allowed to socialize, communicate freely with the outside world, or leave the house unsupervised, and she was required to hide in her basement bedroom whenever non-family members were present in the house.

"Today's sentence is a testament to our solemn commitment to protect those who cannot protect themselves," said James Gibbons, acting special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "Many people are unaware that this form of modern day slavery still occurs in the United States. The victims can be domestic servants, sweat shop employees, sex workers or fruit pickers who are lured here by the promise of prosperity and forced to work as indentured servants. ICE is committed to giving them the help they need to come forward as we work to end human trafficking with vigorous enforcement and tough penalties."

"Our Constitution promises freedom to all," said Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. "The defendants denied the victim the basic right to her freedom. DOJ is committed to prosecuting those who prey on vulnerable members of our society and hold them in modern-day slavery."

The case against the Calimlims was initiated by a call to ICE's national hotline - 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423). ICE law enforcement personnel staff the hotline around-the-clock to take leads from the public about suspicious activity or reports of crimes. Leads generated from hotline calls have resulted in the arrests of a wide range of criminals, including aggravated felons, smugglers, fugitives, sexual predators, and aliens who have re-entered the country after being deported.

This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Johnson, Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Susan French, Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.