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Longview Couple Pleads Guilty To Human Trafficking

Sara Lerner

A Longview, Washington, couple pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to human trafficking. They're charged with forcing a young woman to work for them as their personal servant, without pay. KUOW's Sara Lerner reports.


Ye–Ting Woo is the federal prosecutor on the case. She says the victim was 18 years old when she fell prey to the Longview couple. They're Edk Kenit and Choimina Lukas: 29 and 31 years old.

Woo says they went to their native country, Micronesia, and brought back the victim. Once she got here, they kept her passport from her. Woo says that's how they forced her to stay with them.

The victim worked for about a year with no pay, doing housework and child care. Also, the couple acquired a job for her at a chicken processing plant. Woo says during her five months working at the plant, the victim was forced to give the couple all of her earnings.

Ye–Ting Woo: "So in essence they were using her as a slave in order to financially benefit from her work, both in domestic care and as a nanny as well as working at an outside company."

Woo says domestic servitude cases like these are growing. She believes that's not because more crimes are being committed, but because federal and local agencies are getting better at catching them. And she says she sees more reports of these kinds of labor trafficking cases than sex trafficking.

Ye–Ting Woo: "Part of the reason why it doesn't get as much attention is I think one, sex trafficking, more people are tuned into that and they know what the crime looks like and two, the crime of labor trafficking is in some sense much more hidden. You know, you can't look at a house or a building and know immediately that there is a crime occurring in that location."

Choimina Lukas' attorney did not want to comment on the case. Edk Kenit's attorney was not immediately available for comment. Each defendant faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The couple will be sentenced in October.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

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