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CASE NAME:United States v. Akouavi Kpade Afolabi
ALL PLAINTIFFS:United States
ALL DEFENDANTS:Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, Lassissi Afolabi, Dereck Hounakey, Geoffry Kouevi
CITATION:
DOCKET NUMBER:07-00785
SOURCE:Bloomberg, DOJ/US Attorney Website or Press Release, News Article
TYPE OF CASE:Criminal
RELATED CASE CITATION:
TYPE OF TRIAL:Jury
TRIAL JUDGE(S):Hon. Jose L. Linares
YEAR OF ARREST:2007
YEAR OF VERDICT:2009
TYPE OF COURT:Federal Court
STATE:New Jersey
FEDERAL DISTRICT:
STATE COUNTY:
AGE OF VICTIM(S):Adult
NUMBER OF VICTIMS:25 +
GENDER OF VICTIM(S):Female
VICTIM'S COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:Togo, Ghana
METHOD OF ENTRY INTO THE U.S.:DV-2 visa; DV-3 visa
WAS VICTIM CHARGED WITH A CRIME:No
NUMBER OF DEFENDANT(S):4
GENDER OF DEFENDANT(S):Female and Male
TYPE OF INDUSTRY:Labor
CASE CATEGORIZATION:Hair/Nail Salon
FIRST CHARGE:Forced labor
FIRST CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1589
FIRST CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
FIRST CHARGE SENTENCE:
SECOND CHARGE:Trafficking with respect to forced labor
SECOND CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1590
SECOND CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
SECOND CHARGE SENTENCE:
THIRD CHARGE:Conspiracy to commit forced labor, trafficking with respect to forced labor, and document servitude
THIRD CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 371
THIRD CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:Guilty Verdict
THIRD CHARGE SENTENCE:
FOURTH CHARGE:Visa Fraud
FOURTH CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:18 U.S.C. § 1546
FOURTH CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:
FOURTH CHARGE SENTENCE:
FIFTH CHARGE:Harboring aliens
FIFTH CHARGE US/STATE CODE CITATION:8 U.S.C. § 1324
FIFTH CHARGE VERDICT/PLEA:
FIFTH CHARGE SENTENCE:
CORE TERMS:Note that this is an incomplete list of charges for all defendants
SENTENCING OPINION CITATION:
LENGTH OF GREATEST SENTENCE:27 years
RESTITUTION REQUIRED:$3,949,140
FINE IMPOSED:
FORFEITURE IMPOSED:
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TOTAL AWARD:
APPEAL:
EXPLANATION OF APPEAL:
APPELLATE OPINION CITATION:
HOLDING OF APPEALS COURT:
APPEAL STILL PENDING?:
SUMMARY:

From October 2002 to September 2007, Defendant Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, a successful textile merchant from Togo, led a criminal operation that used fraudulently obtained visas to traffic over 20 West African girls to the United States. The victims were between the ages of 10 and 19 years-old. Kpade Afolabi used emotional and physical abuse to force the girls to work up to 14 hours-a-day at hair and nail salons in Newark and East Orange, New Jersey.  Defendant Lassissi Afolabi was also found to have sexually abused several of the girls. Additionally, Kpade Afolabi confiscated the victims’ identity documents and exploited the girls’ cultural fear of voodoo curses to control and manipulate them. To further isolate the girls, defendants imposed strict rules against learning English or contacting people outside of the house. The defendants forced the girls to turn over all of their earnings.


In September 2010, Kpade Afolabi was sentenced to 27 months in prison after being convicted by a federal jury on 22 criminal counts related to her role as the leader in the trafficking scheme. In July 2010, Defendants Lassissi Afolabi and Dereck Hounakey were sentenced to prison terms of 292 and 55 months, respectively, on trafficking-related charges. Defendants Geoffry Kouevi was convicted for conspiring with Kpade Afolabi to commit visa fraud and was sentenced to 26 months in prison.

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