From Black Voices — A New Jersey man from the West African nation of Togo is behind bars after forcing at least 20 women to work without pay in hair braiding salons. According to the Associated Press, 47-year-old Lassissi Afolabi, a citizen of the Togolese Republic, was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison after he admitted to smuggling Togolese women and girls into the U.S. from 2002 through 2007 and making the young women, in effect, modern day slaves at hair salons throughout Newark and East Orange, NJ.
The Star Ledger reported that the women suffered beatings, psychological torture and sexual abuse. A federal judge in Newark described Afolabi’s crimes as “horrific” and ordered him to also repay his victims $3.9 million in restitution.
But Afolabi didn’t act alone; he had help. His ex wife, Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, and her son were also convicted in the scheme. The former wife will be sentenced in September for her wrongdoing; her son has been given 55 months prison time. The trio snuck the women into the U.S. using fake visas, authorities said.