One of the defendants in what state officials called "an organized crime sex trafficking ring operating across California" has been sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in state prison, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced.
Jing Chiang Huang was also ordered to pay $557,391 in restitution to the California Franchise Tax Board in the sentencing hearing May 26.
Bonta said the conviction was the result of investigative work by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the California Department of Justice, Ventura County Sheriff's Office, California Franchise Tax Board and FBI.
Charges related to sex trafficking of multiple victims, tax fraud and money laundering committed between 2015 and 2019 were first filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Huang and several of her co-defendants in June of 2019.
More than a dozen suspected sex trafficking victims were rescued in the process, according to a press release issued by the Attorney General's Office said.
“As part of the operation, the defendants allegedly used Backpage.com to place advertisements and allegedly deprived individuals of their liberty in order to force them to commit sex acts at multiple brothel locations,” the release read. “The defendants also allegedly withheld at least one survivor's passport and, as a form of coercion, threatened future job opportunities.”
Huang pleaded guilty in January of 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, three counts of income tax evasion, and one count of money laundering.
“Plain and simple: Trafficking young Asian women for sex is criminal,” Bonta said in a statement. “It's also part of a long history of objectification in this country that has been part and parcel of the anti-Asian violence we've seen across the United States. That's why I'm grateful to our partners in law enforcement across California whose investigative efforts helped make this case happen.”
The California Department of Justice said it continues its case against the other defendants is ongoing, with a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 2.
-- Bay City News