A 37-year-old Mozambique national residing in the Dallas area has been sentenced to prison for federal immigration violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.
Nelia Angelina Mulembwe pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, 2018, to fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents and was sentenced to six months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone on June 20, 2018.
According to information presented in court, in June 2017, law enforcement officers received a tip that a Mozambique national was being held captive in a Collin County apartment. An investigation revealed that the victim had worked for Mulembwe as a nanny and housekeeper in Mozambique. In 2015, Mulembwe applied for a visa for the victim to accompany her and her children to the United States. Mulembwe falsely represented that the victim was a student and would be coming to the United States for a month-long visit. However, after arriving in the United States in October 2015, the victim stayed in Mulembwe’s apartment where she slept on a mattress on the floor in the children’s room and worked constantly with no time off until she was rescued by federal agents in June 2017. During this time, the victim’s family in Mozambique was paid the equivalent of approximately $70 a month, but the victim received no compensation for her services. Mulembwe was also ordered to pay restitution of $108,699.25 to her victim, which represents fair wages the victim should have received.
“Labor trafficking is modern-day slavery,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “Cases involving trafficking of people for the sex trade seem to get more attention, but these types of cases, where people are forced to work for little or no pay, are becoming more common. The cases involve the denial of basic human rights, and the type of people who are victims are particularly vulnerable. Federal law enforcement will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases, and we hope that the public will report situations like this when anyone becomes aware of them.”
This case was investigated by the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Miller.