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June 1, 2015San Antonio, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Qatar military official, wife charged in San Antonio with engaging in forced labor

Couple allegedly brought a housemaid and servant with them to Texas and housed them in primitive conditions with limited food and freedom of movement

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A military official from Qatar and his wife, from the United Arab Emirates, were charged May 30 with engaging in forced labor by obtaining the labor and services of two persons by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint and threats of physical restraint.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.

Hassan Salem H. M. Al Homoud and his wife, Zainab Al Hosani, and their two children, live in San Antonio while Al Homoud is attending military training at Camp Bullis, according to a federal criminal complaint filed June 1. Camp Bullis is a training facility located at Joint Base San Antonio.

In mid-2014, the defendants allegedly brought with them to the United States two individuals - a housemaid and a servant to work for the family. The housemaid is from Indonesia; the servant is from Bangladesh. Both were in the United States on visas sponsored by Al Homoud.

The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants housed the workers in primitive conditions, restricted their ability to move or travel, and provided them with limited amounts of food. To restrict their liberty, Al Homoud and Al Hosani withheld the wages of both workers, and deprived them of possessing cell phones, passports and visas. Al Hosani also threatened the workers with arrest and incarceration in Qatar if they failed to perform their work obligations.

An officer with the San Antonio Police Department discovered the workers’ conditions in early April when he encountered one of the workers in apparent distress along Camp Bullis Road. This encounter led law enforcement officers to a nearby apartment occupied by the workers, which was furnished with only a pallet on the floor for sleeping.

On May 30, HSI special agents arrested the defendants in San Antonio. Both were scheduled to appear in federal court June 1 in San Antonio. If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bettina Richardson, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.