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african hair braiding

NEWARK, N.J. — A woman from the impoverished West African nation Togo has been sentenced to 27 years in prison after being convicted of running a human smuggling operation and forcing women to work at New Jersey hair braiding salons.

Prosecutors say Akouavi Afolabi (ah-koo-AH’-vee ah-FOL’-ah-bay) ran a scheme to bring at least 20 girls and women ages 10 to 19 from West Africa to the United States on fraudulent visas. They say the victims were made to work at the salons for no pay.

Afolabi was convicted on 22 counts last October. At Monday’s sentencing she also was ordered to pay restitution totaling $3.9 million.

Afolabi’s ex-husband and son already pleaded guilty. Her son received a 55-month prison term. Her ex-husband was sentenced to 24 years.

A fourth defendant received a 26-month prison term.

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