2 February 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – An Irvine couple was indicted this afternoon by an Orange County federal grand jury on involuntary servitude charges that allege they enslaved a 12-year-old girl in their garage for two years and forced her to work as a domestic servant for their family of seven.
Abdel Nasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim, 44, and Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd Motelib, 41, who were married at the time of the alleged offense, were named in a four-count indictment. The indictment accuses the couple of conspiring to hold the victim in involuntary servitude, to obtain the services of the victim by unlawful means of force and coercion, and to harbor an illegal alien. The indictment also alleges substantive counts that charge each of the three objects of the conspiracy.
The indictment was announced this afternoon by United States Attorney Debra W. Yang and Alexander Acosta, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
“Today’s indictment illustrates the horror of human trafficking and the inhumane conditions that some victims are subjected to,” United States Attorney Yang said. “It is particularly troubling that these defendants targeted a child from their home country. With the recent formation of two Human Trafficking Task Forces in this district, I know that this problem with be addressed head on and will result in freedom for victims and prison for perpetrators.”
The indictment alleges that Ibrahim and Motelib obtained the victim’s services through extortionate threats against the victim’s sister in Egypt. The couple then arranged through a third party to fraudulently obtain a visa for the victim so she could travel to the United States. Ibrahim and Motelib then harbored the victim “in squalid conditions and conceal[ed] her presence from immigration, school, and police officials so that she could serve their family as a domestic servant,” the indictment reads.
Ibrahim and Motelib allegedly forced the girl to work inside their house, with little or no pay, by threatening her with bodily harm and actually striking the victim, threatening that her sister would be arrested in Egypt, and threatening that she would be arrested by the police if she left the house.
The girl was held by Ibrahim and Motelib from August 2000 until she was freed by authorities on April 9, 2002.
“This case goes well beyond an egregious violation of immigration law,” said Kumar Kibble, Los Angeles ICE Special Agent-in-Charge in Orange County. “It is a sad reflection on human greed, where even in the most affluent neighborhoods, adults think they can take advantage of a helpless child.”
The Court held a further hearing this afternoon regarding whether Ibrahim should be detained pending trial. The Court ordered that Ibrahim be released on bond, subject to electronic monitoring. The trial of the case is currently scheduled for July 12.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
If convicted of the four charges in the indictment, Ibrahim and Motelib could each be sentenced to as much as 50 years in federal prison.
The case is being prosecuted jointly by the United States Attorney for the Central District of California and the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.
The case against Ibrahim and Motelib is the first case brought under the purview of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force was formed late last year with a goal of increasing the identification and prosecution of human trafficking cases in Orange County. The Task Force, which has been meeting monthly, has developed subcommittees to address the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of human trafficking victims, and the prosecution of human trafficking cases. The Task Force is made up of the United States Attorney’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Irvine Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, the Garden Grove Police Department, the Anaheim Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Department of Labor, Cal-OSHA/California Labor & Workforce Development Agency, CSP Victim-Assistance Programs, the Public Law Center, St. Anselm’s Cross Cultural Community Center, Interval House’s Domestic Violence Shelter, The Cambodian Family, Catholic Charities, Boat People/S.O.S., the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange County, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Irvine Police Department cooperated in the investigation of the charges against Ibrahim and Motelib.