"A Micronesian couple who now reside in the Seattle-area were
sentenced Wednesday for their role in a forced labor scheme uncovered in
an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE)
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Seattle Police Department's
High Risk Victims Unit and the Longview Police Department.
Edk Kenit, 28, and Choimina Lukas, 30, of Longview, Wash., were
sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan of the Western District
of Washington. Kenit was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by
three years of supervised release. Lukas was sentenced to 20 months in
prison followed by three years of supervised release. The case is being
prosecuted jointly by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ye-Ting Woo and Trial
Attorney Daniel Weiss of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking
Kenit and Lukas each pleaded guilty in July to compelling an
18-year-old Micronesian woman's servitude by withholding documents.
Kenit and Lukas admitted in court that in March 2010 they recruited the
victim to travel from Micronesia to be their domestic servant and
arranged for her passport and travel to the United States. Upon her
arrival, Kenit and Lukas took control of the victim's passport as part
of their scheme to compel her to work as their domestic servant
providing full-time childcare, cooking and cleaning services without
Kenit and Lukas also admitted that they obtained a Social Security
card in the victim's name which they concealed from her. The defendants
caused the victim to obtain full-time employment at a local chicken
processing plant and required that she cash her pay checks and give the
earnings to them. This employment lasted for five months and was in
addition to the domestic services the victim continued to provide.
Kenit and Lukas admitted that throughout the scheme they isolated the
victim, forbidding her to have friends, go out of the house unmonitored
or participate in social gatherings unrelated to family activities.
The entire scheme lasted nearly one year before the victim escaped.
"The defendants' exploitation of a vulnerable young woman is
reprehensible," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the
Civil Rights Division. "Human trafficking is a scourge and the Justice
Department will continue to vigorously prosecute persons who engage in
such intolerable conduct."
"These two defendants preyed on a young and vulnerable member of
their own family. They brought her to this country with promises of
education and travel, and instead forced her to work both in their home
and at hard labor to support them economically," said U.S. Attorney for
the Western District of Washington Jenny A. Durkan. "Thankfully, an
alert neighbor and the Longview Police Department were able to rescue
the victim from this abuse."
ICE HSI and the other law enforcement agencies involved in the
investigation received substantial support with the case from
non-governmental organizations which specialize in providing services
to crime victims." - ICE, Oct. 19, 2011.