A Togolese woman charged with visa fraud and human trafficking between Africa and New Jersey has been convicted on all counts.
The verdict came Wednesday afternoon, shortly after jurors began their deliberations.
Prosecutors say Akouavi Afolabi helped bring at least 20 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 from West Africa and forced them to work for no pay at African hair braiding salons in northern Jersey.
Afolabi's lawyer said in closing arguments Tuesday that what was really on trial was cultural differences that failed to translate. He said the girls viewed his client as a benevolent mother figure who offered them an escape from poverty and the chance to live in America.
Afolabi's ex-husband and son have pleaded guilty in the case.