Saudi princess arrested for human trafficking in California

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  July 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM
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A Kenyan domestic worker in California was able to escape Meshael Alayban's condominium and flag down a bus, where a passenger helped her contact the Irvine Police Department.

Alayban, who according to court documents is one of the wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud, now faces one felony count of human trafficking.

Investigators say the alleged victim, 30, had contracted to work with Alayban's family in Saudi Arabia in March 2012. She was to work eight hours a day five days a week for $1,600 per month.

But she says that once she arrived in Saudi Arabia, her passport was taken from her, and she was forced to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for just $220 per month.

Police say Alayban's family traveled to the U.S. in May with the alleged victim and four women from the Philippines under similar contracts.

The unidentified Kenyan woman left the home with a suitcase and a pamphlet that was given to her at the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia where she was issued a travel visa. The pamphlet described her rights and warned of human trafficking.

Irvine police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and Homeland Security Investigators executed a search warrant and found the other four women in the condominium.

Police say all five women are in good health, and there are so far no indications of physical abuse. The women left with detectives voluntarily and are being assisted with shelter.

Detectives are working to recover the women's travel documents, also taken by Alayban, and believed to be in a safe deposit box at a local bank.

Alayban, 42, is being held in the Orange County jail in lieu of $5 million bail. She faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison if convicted.

According to the District Attorney's office, this is the first forced labor trafficking case to be prosecuted in Orange County since the passage of California's Proposition 35 in November, which increased the penalties for human trafficking.

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