Orange County District Attorney, Press Release
For Immediate Release, Case # 13HF0020: July 10, 2013
*This is the first case of forced labor human trafficking to be prosecuted in Orange County under Prop 35
SANTA ANA – A Saudi Arabian Princess has been charged with human trafficking of a Kenyan woman into the United States and forcing the victim to work as a domestic servant against her will in the first forced labor human trafficking case to be prosecuted in Orange County under California’s Proposition 35 (Prop 35). Meshael Alayban, 42, is charged with one felony count of human trafficking and faces a maximum sentence of 12 years if convicted. Based on the fact that the defendant poses a serious flight risk, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office requested Alayban be held without bail at a bail hearing today. Based on the law, the court set bail at $5 million and ordered terms for the defendant if she posts bail including the surrender of her passport, no travel outside of Orange County without approval from the court, and a GPS tracking device be worn at all times.
Alayban is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Thursday, July 11, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
“The laws of our nation and California do not tolerate people who deprive or violate the liberty of another and obtain forced labor or services,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “If any person is being enslaved, he or she should contact law enforcement. Any victim of human trafficking will receive the benefit and protection of the laws of the United States and California.”
“We are gratified to have been able to help this victim find her freedom,” said Irvine Police Chief David L. Maggard Jr.
“In this country, it is not only unacceptable to hold people against their will, it is criminal,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “This case should serve as an example to human trafficking victims that they can come to authorities without fear, so we can provide them with protection and bring those responsible to justice.”
Alayban is one of the wives of Saudi Arabian Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
Jane Doe, 30, is originally from Kenya and needed work to pay for her young daughter’s medical care. The victim obtained a passport, secured work in Saudi Arabia, and signed a two-year contract with an employment agency guaranteeing that she would be paid $1,600 a month to work eight hours a day, five days a week. The contract also stated that she would be paid more after three months of employment and could alternately return home after three months if she was dissatisfied with her employment.
Beginning in March 2012, Alayban is accused of employing Jane Doe to work in Saudi Arabia to cook, clean, iron, do laundry, and other household chores in the palace. The defendant is accused of making the victim work 16 hours a day and seven days a week without a day off and paying only $220 a month. She is accused of taking away the victim’s passport and refusing to allow the victim to return to Kenya.
Circumstances of the Case
On May 6, 2013, Alayban is accused of bringing Jane Doe to the United States and instructing the victim on how to describe her work conditions to the United States Embassy. She is accused of telling Jane Doe to falsely state that Jane Doe worked within the hours and was paid as agreed in her contract.
Upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport in the U.S., the defendant is accused of giving Jane Doe her Kenyan passport for the purpose of passing through customs and then immediately taking the victim’s passport from her as soon as they had left the area.
The defendant and her family are accused of moving Jane Doe to Irvine, where she was forced to work tending to at least eight people in four apartments in the same complex. The defendant is accused of forcing Jane Doe to wash dishes, cook, clean two apartments, and do the laundry and ironing.
Alayban is accused of paying the victim only $220 a month, forcing the victim to work long hours, refusing the victim a day off, not allowing any breaks, refusing to return the victim’s passport or travel documents, and refusing to allow Jane Doe to leave the residence except for a family outing so the victim could carry the family’s bags.
On July 9, 2013, Jane Doe was able to escape the residence and flagged down a bus driver. The victim was in possession of a U.S. Department of State pamphlet, given to her at the embassy in Saudi Arabia when she was issued her travel visa, describing her rights and warning of human trafficking.
Officers from the Irvine Police Department (IPD) responded and investigated the case for human trafficking.
Alayban was arrested at her Irvine apartment at approximately 12:20 a.m. this morning, July 10, 2013, by IPD and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). While in the apartment, IPD and HSI located four additional Filipino female workers, whose passports may also have been seized by the defendant’s family, in the home. The investigation regarding these potential victims and other potential defendants is ongoing. The Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is also providing substantial assistance with the ongoing investigation.
Human Trafficking Proposition 35
In November 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force. Human exploitation and trafficking generally comes in two forms – forced labor and forced commercial sexual exploitation. This case is the first to be prosecuted under Prop 35 in Orange County for forced labor.
Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person. Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely to be carried out.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information or who thinks they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Mike Munn at (714) 347-8560 or IPD Detective Victoria Hurtado at (949) 724-7000.
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff