U.S. Court Issues Harshest Human Trafficking Sentence to Date
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 3:50 PM

On 23 June 2005, a United States court sentenced Lee Soo-Kil to forty years in prison, the harshest sentence yet imposed in a human trafficking case. 

Lee owned the Daewoosa garment factory in American Samoa, where more than 200 people from China and Vietnam were held as forced laborers.  According to a U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, "The workers were recruited from China and from state-owned labor export companies in Vietnam. They paid fees of approximately $5,000 to $8,000 to gain employment at the Daewoosa factory and risked retaliation and punishment at home if deported back to their native lands.

"Lee and his henchmen preyed on this vulnerability, and subjected the laborers to poor conditions and minimal pay."  Workers who complained were silenced "using arrests, deportations, food deprivation and brutal physical beatings." (cited from: U.S. Department of Justice, Press Release #335, 23 June 2005)

Two co-conspirators were previously convicted and sentenced to 70 months and 51 months. 

Compiled from: "Garment Factory Owner Sentenced to 40 Years for Human Trafficking," U.S. Department of Justice Press Release #335, 23 June 2005, http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/June/05_crt_335.htm