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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Tacoma woman sentenced for holding domestic servant in forced labor

LOS ANGELES - A Tacoma, Wash., woman was sentenced here today to three years in prison after previously pleading guilty to holding her Filipino domestic worker in forced labor following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Labor.

In 2001, Elizabeth Jackson arranged to have the victim brought to the United States. After the woman arrived, Jackson confiscated her passport and forced her to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for less than $400 per month. From 2001 to 2002, Jackson used intimidation and repeated threats of deportation to keep the victim from leaving without permission.

Also in federal court today, James Jackson, Elizabeth Jackson's husband, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and assessed a fine of $5,000 for harboring the Filipino woman in the couple's Culver City, Calif., home. James Jackson had previously pleaded guilty and admitted that from approximately August 2001 to February 2002, he allowed the victim to reside in their home, even though he knew that her visa had expired.

"These defendants used their power and affluence to coerce a vulnerable woman into their personal service for several months," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "This type of behavior is a clear violation of federal law. The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting this type of modern-day slavery."

"No person should ever be forced to live in a world of fear, isolation and servitude, particularly in a country that prides itself on its freedoms," said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "Today's sentences should send a message that ICE is committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves."

Human trafficking prosecutions such as this one are a top priority of the Department of Justice. In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years. In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.

ICE works with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure engaged in human trafficking. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of its authorities and expertise, stripping away assets and profit incentive, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims.