SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A Saudi princess was released Thursday after posting $5 million bail following an arrest on suspicion of holding a domestic servant against her will.
Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested Tuesday night by Irvine Police detectives working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. She faces one felony charge of human trafficking.
Alayban was taken into custody at a 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, officials said.
The alleged victim was carrying a suitcase and a Department of State pamphlet describing her rights and warning of human trafficking that 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 the woman was in distress and helped her contact the Irvine Police Department.
Authorities say the woman was contracted through an agency in Kenya to work for Alayban’s family in Saudi Arabia back in March of 2012. However, once she arrived, her passports and contract were allegedly 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 reportedly refused to give it to her.
In May 2013, the family traveled to the United States with the alleged victim and four other women from the Philippines, who were under similar contracts.
When Irvine detectives and federal agents executed a search warrant at the location, the four other women were found, authorities said. Their travel documents had also reportedly 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.
Prosecutors say Alayban is one of the six wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
The Saudi royal family is extensive, with thousands of princes and princesses, including some who have run into trouble with the law.
Rackauckas said Alayban’s husband was at the Irvine condo during the police search. Authorities said there was no evidence to implicate him in the case.
Alayban is scheduled to be arraigned July 29.
While free on bond, she must wear a GPS tracking device and cannot leave Orange County without permission from the court. She has also turned over her passport and is barred from any contact with the victim.
If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.
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