Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is both an international and a national issue.  During the past 20 years, PII has assisted attorneys representing victims of human trafficking, both in litigation against traffickers and against U.S. companies that have benefited from trafficked labor.  Starting in 1995, with the infamous Thai slavery case in El Monte, California, PII has located and interviewed critical witnesses, collected and catalogued key evidence, and assisted in identifying assets of potential defendants.

Case in Point

In the 1995 Thai worker slave case, 72 Thai nationals were enslaved in an apartment complex surrounded by barbwire and armed guards in El Monte, California, and forced to sew clothes for 20 hours a day.  After law enforcement raided the complex, PII’s team combed through the site and documented hundreds of pieces of evidence, which attorneys utilized to obtain settlements for the plaintiffs.  A subsequent Smithsonian Institution exhibit, “Sweatshops in America,” incorporated evidence that PII recovered from the crime scene. Since then, PII had continued its involvement in trafficking cases on behalf of those forced into domestic slavery.

Civil case can be found here.

Our piece of the Smithsonian exhibit can be found here and here.

Case in Point

An attorney for Sony Pictures and his wife held a Filipino woman, Nena Ruiz, as a slave in their home for nine years before she ran away.  The couple had confiscated Ruiz’s passport, forced her to work 18 hours a day, abused her physically, and forced her to sleep in a dog’s bed.  Assisting Ruiz’s legal counsel, PII collected evidence for her lawsuit, which eventually resulted in an $825,000 award on her behalf.  The attorney and his wife were convicted on criminal charges in federal court. Read LA Times article here.