ATLANTA- Bidemi Bello, 42, formerly of Suwanee, Ga., was sentenced today
in Atlanta by U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. on human
trafficking charges including forced labor, trafficking with respect to
forced labor, document servitude, harboring for financial gain and
procurement of naturalization unlawfully, the Department of Justice
Bello was sentenced to 140 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised.
Bello was also ordered to be deported from the United States upon completion of her federal sentence.
Bello was convicted of these charges on June 10, 2011, after a trial.
“Holding other human beings against their will in servitude is a
violation of human rights that will not be tolerated in our free
society,” stated Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the
Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to combating human trafficking
in all its forms, vindicating the rights of trafficking victims and
bringing human traffickers to justice.”
“This case is nothing short of shocking,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates.
“Bello enslaved two young women through physical abuse, false
promises, and threats of jail made to them and their families. Our
office is working aggressively to root out human trafficking and to hold
these criminals accountable.”
Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office,
said, “This defendant lacked any compassion for her victims in that the
defendant in this matter, being an immigrant to the U.S. herself, knew
that her victims were particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The FBI
is proud of the role that it played in bringing this matter to justice
and urges anyone with information regarding Human Trafficking activity
to contact its nearest FBI Field Office.”
“This sentencing closes the door on a shocking case of modern day
slavery,” said Brock Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations
(ICE-HSI) in Atlanta. “Human trafficking deprives victims of their
freedom and dignity and it has no place in our world. Cases like this
one serve to strengthen our resolve to protect and defend those who may
not be able to evade or escape the grip of human trafficking.”
The facts presented at trial showed that on two separate occasions,
Bello returned to her home country of Nigeria and recruited two young
women to return with her to the United States to work as her nanny and
The first victim, identified in court as “Laome,” traveled with
Bello in October 2001 when she was 17-years-old, using a fraudulent
British passport the defendant had obtained for her.
The second victim, identified in court as “Dupe,” traveled with
an associate of Bello’s to the United States in November 2004 when she
was 20, also using a fraudulent British passport.
Each victim testified that she never held her own travel documentation and did not know how the passports had been obtained.
Bello had promised the young women and their families that she would
send them to school in the United States. She also promised to pay a
salary to one of the young women in exchange for her services. Those
promises were not kept. Instead, Bello physically and emotionally abused
both young women, controlled their access to the outside world, and
routinely treated them inhumanely. Testimony at trial from the victims
described the degrading treatment they received at the hands of Bello.
If Bello decided the house was not clean enough, she beat them;
if Bello decided the victims did not respond fast enough to her crying
child, she beat them; if Bello felt that they had been disrespectful,
she beat them.
Bello used a large wooden spoon, shoes, electric cords and her hands to inflict this physical abuse.
One young woman took pictures of her injuries with a disposable
camera and the pictures of her cut and bloodied lip were admitted as
evidence during Bello’s trial.
The evidence showed that while Bello’s upscale home had multiple
bedrooms and bathrooms, she made the young women sleep on the floor or a
couch, would not let them use the shower, and did not allow the them to
eat the food they cooked, but were instead forced to eat food that had
spoiled and was moldy.
Laome testified that she often threw up from the food Bello
made her eat, and that on at least one occasion, Bello made her eat that
The evidence also showed that the victims were sleep deprived, and forced to be on call for Bello’s child all night.
The women were given ceaseless tasks and forced to use
primitive methods for washing and cutting grass because Bello would not
let the young women use modern appliances such as the washing machine,
dishwasher or the lawn mower.
Several witnesses corroborated the victims’ stories and evidence showed
that Bello also hid her crime from a Georgia Department of Family and
Children’s Services investigator who came to her home upon hearing
allegations of child abuse.
Further, Bello never sent the young women to school as she had promised and never gave them any money for their years of work.
The young women were totally dependent on Bello for all their basic necessities and she isolated them from others.
The women finally escaped with assistance from community members who were friends of Bello.
The first victim, Laome, escaped from Bello, by hiding in the
back of a woman’s car, who covered her with blankets and drove her away
while Bello attended a party.
The second victim, Dupe escaped by saving up $60, that was given to her by friends of Bello, and calling a cab.
She was assisted by pastors at a church in Marietta after taking the cab to the church.
Bello became a U.S. citizen while she committed the crime of human trafficking.
Victims of human trafficking, on the other hand, are protected by U.S.
laws from such abuse, regardless of where they come from or how they
come to be in the United States.
Upon being identified as victims of human trafficking, both
Laome and Dupe were given T-visas provided by the U.S. government and
allowed to remain in the United States to assist in the prosecution of
Bello. Anyone who knows of a potential victim of human trafficking
should report these offenses to the FBI at 404-679-9000 or at
1-888-373-7888 or to ICE-HSI at 866-DHS-2-ICE
(866-347-2423) or online at www.ice.gov .
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI, the Department
of Homeland Security, ICE and special agents with the U.S. State
Department, Diplomatic Security Services.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Coppedge from the Northern District of
Georgia and Civil Rights Division Criminal Section Deputy Chief Karima
Maloney prosecuted the case.
DOJ, Oct. 13, 2011.