- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2001

A federal jury in Greenbelt, Md., yesterday convicted a Maryland couple of enslaving a teen-age West African girl in their Silver Spring home and using her as their domestic servant.

Assistant Attorney General Ralph F. Boyd Jr., who heads the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said Louisa Satia, 36, and Kevin Waton Nanji, 40, of Silver Spring, were convicted of involuntary servitude, conspiracy to harbor and harboring the girl for their own financial benefit.

In addition, Satia was convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit passport fraud.

"Today's verdicts demonstrate that human trafficking will not be allowed nor tolerated in the United States," said Mr. Boyd. "Those who seek out and enslave the vulnerable will face stiff penalties."

Satia and Nanji were charged with recruiting the Cameroonian girl with false promises that she would go to school in America. Justice officials said once the young girl arrived in the United States, the couple enslaved her and forced her to be their domestic servant, using force and threats to compel her to work for them.

Evidence presented at the trial showed that Satia repeatedly hit and assaulted the girl, including spraying cleaning liquid in her eyes. It also showed that Nanji sexually abused the girl during the three-year period she worked for them.

The couple faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years' incarceration, three years supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for March 27 before U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. in Greenbelt.

The case, dubbed "Operation Atlantic Link," was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mythili Raman and Civil Rights Division trial attorney Seth Rosenthal in Greenbelt. It was the result of a lengthy joint investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department.

Department officials said the interagency cooperation in this case is part of the Justice Department's Human Trafficking initiative announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft in March, which focuses resources across agency lines to better investigate and prosecute modern-day slavery.

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