Three family members are facing the law as they are indicted on a labor trafficking conspiracy charge for allegedly forcing two undocumented West African teenagers to work in the Chicago suburbs. 71-year old Nawomi Awoga, of Hazel Crest and her two daughters 34-year old Marina Fandohan of Country Club Hills and 31-year old Assiba Lea Fandohan of Hazel Crest is charged.
According to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the three members are charged with conspiracy to conceal, harbor, and shield from detection two children from the West African country of Benin. The defendants are also charged in the indictment with forcing labor through threats of serious harm to a victim or another person.
On Monday, the defendants were arrested. On Aug.5, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., Awoga is scheduled to make an initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim. Oke and Fandohan will appear before Judge Kim for detention hearings on Aug. 6, 2020, at noon.
John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General in Chicago; and Patrick S. Mills, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Chicago Field Office announced the indictment and arrests.
Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Chicago Police Department, and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin provided substantial assistance in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and Tiffany Ardam are representing the government in the case.