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Conspiracy to Commit Forced Labor; Possible Defenses
posted on 11/14/23

Lorenza Domingo-Castaneda, a citizen of Guatemala, recently pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit forced labor and three counts of forced labor. The co-defendant was Catarina Domingo-Juan, who pleaded guilty to the same charges.

The two defendants conspired–from 2015-2021–to take minor children from Guatemala and bring them to the United States to work. The two defendants promised the victims that they would have a better life in the United States. The victims’ parents made the same promises and subsequently agreed to let their children travel to the United States.

Not As Advertised

The victims were ordered to do domestic services within their new American homes and also were directed to work outside businesses. The victims were abused, coerced, and suffered limited and monitored communication with relatives. 

Human Trafficking

This crime is a prime example of human trafficking. According to United States Attorney Gregory K. Harris (Central District of Illinois), “Human trafficking is a scourge that affects not only far-flung locales but our local communities as well. Traffickers prey on vulnerable victims– including children–bringing them to the United States and entangling them in forced labor schemes. The Central District of Illinois is committed to prosecuting these crimes and further asks community members who are aware of any signs of such exploitation to pass that information on to law enforcement.”

Other agents added that human traffickers care only about money while they steal freedom and dignity from their victims. The agents further stated that the victims in the Domingo-Castaneda case were lucky to have been rescued by law enforcement.


The defendants were not only charged with the crime of committing forced labor but also with the conspiracy to commit forced labor. Conspiracy is treated as a separate crime and can significantly add to prison time. A person can be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime if:

  • Two or more persons agree to a criminal act.
  • All of the conspirators intended to commit the crime.
  • At least one of the persons goes on to commit an affirmative act, such as holding a pre-crime meeting or buying a weapon, for example.

Interestingly, courts have ruled that silence can be the affirmative act if it is done to further a conspiracy.

Defense to Conspiracy

Even if a defendant originally conspired to commit a crime, that defendant could claim that they had attempted to withdraw from the conspiracy. For this defense to be valid, the defendant must have cut ties and withdrawn from the plan before the crime was committed. Any communication with supposed former co-conspirators can negate this defense.

Entrapment is another common conspiracy defense if a government agent originated the conspiracy idea and persuaded the defendant to take part when the defendant had no desire or intent to commit the crime, that can constitute entrapment.

Seek Qualified Help Today

If you have been charged with conspiracy, you may be able to successfully defend against such allegations. Get legal help now. At Glasgow & Olsson, we understand that good people sometimes commit crimes. We are aware that individual circumstances may cause a person to make a poor choice that results in a criminal charge. If you are charged with a criminal offense, you need the proper counsel to guide you through the federal criminal justice system. You need experienced criminal lawyers to help you understand your options. 

If you need representation for a criminal charge in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is uniquely qualified to help. When you need an attorney experience matters, contact Chicago Criminal defense attorneys today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.