An Indian couple running a motel in the US have been sentenced to a year's imprisonment on charges of human trafficking and labour exploitation of an illegal immigrant from India.
The couple Vishnubhai Chaudhari, 50, and Leelabahen Chaudhari, 44, of Kimball, Nebraska, have also been asked to pay USD 40,000 to the victim. They face deportation after completion their sentence followed by two years of supervised release.
The Indian couple had previously pleading guilty on December 18, 2017, to alien harbouring for financial gain and conspiracy to harbour an alien, the Department of Justice said.
According to documents filed in court, the Indian couple admitted to conspiring to harbour the victim who was an undocumented Indian national, at a Super 8 Motel in Kimball between October 2011 and February 2013.
During that time, the couple required the victim to work long hours, seven days a week at the motel, performing manual labour, including cleaning rooms, shovelling snow, and doing laundry.
Although they promised to pay the victim, they never did, but rather claimed to apply that amount to a debt the victim owed. They further restricted the victim's movement, isolated him, and verbally abused him.
Vishnubhai also threatened to find the victim if he ever left the motel. Leelabahen regularly assaulted the victim, including on one occasion when she slapped his face several times because he had failed to clean a bathtub to her standards.
The victim eventually escaped with the help of a motel guest and local law enforcement.
"Today's sentence, and the restitution awarded to the victim, sends a clear message that the Justice Department will use its full resources to prosecute defendants like this one who motivated by their greed violate our immigration laws and exploit a vulnerable individual who lacked immigration status," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.
"Human trafficking is the modern world's version of enslaving another person for profit. That is what these individuals have done to this victim," said Special Agent in Charge Tracy Cormier of HSI St Paul.
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