Saudi Princess Arrested In Irvine On Human Trafficking Charges
IRVINE (CBS/AP) — A Saudi princess was behind bars Wednesday after her arrest on charges of holding a domestic servant against her will, authorities said.
Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested Tuesday night by Irvine Police detectives working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Alayban was arrested at her condominium on Gramercy west of Jamboree Road in Irvine after the victim, a 30-year-old woman from Kenya, left the residence and flagged down a passing bus, Sheriff’s officials said.
She was carrying a suitcase and a Department of State pamphlet – which described her rights and warned of human trafficking – which authorities said was given to her at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, where she was issued a travel visa.
After getting on the bus, an Irvine woman saw she was in distress and helped her contact the Irvine Police Department.
In March 2012, authorities say the victim contracted through an agency in Kenya to work for Alayban’s family in Saudi Arabia. However, once she arrived, her passports and contract were taken from her by Alayban.
The victim was required to work excessive hours and paid only a fraction of the agreed upon salary, according to officials.
When the victim complained about the working conditions and asked for her passport back so she could leave, Alayban refused to give it to her, Sheriff’s officials said.
In May 2013, the family traveled to the U.S. accompanied by the victim and four other women from the Philippines under similar contracts.
While Irvine Detectives and HSI Special Agents executed a search warrant at the location, the four women were contacted, authorities said. Their travel documents had also been taken by Alayban.
Detectives are working to recover the documents, which are believed to be in a safe deposit box at a local bank. The women left with detectives voluntarily and an investigation into each of their circumstances is ongoing. All five women are in good health.
There were no immediate indications of physical abuse, investigators said.
No charges have been filed in connection with their circumstances.
Alayban is currently being held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $5 million bail and is set to be arraigned in court on Thursday.
If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Alayban is married to a Saudi prince.
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