18 Nabbed in Human-Smuggling Scheme; S. Koreans Brought to U.S. for Prostitution
Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Federal and state authorities in California arrested 18 persons during a series of overnight raids last week that targeted a sophisticated human-smuggling operation authorities said brought hundreds of South Korean women into the United States to work as prostitutes.
A criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles late Friday charged 23 persons with conspiracy. Five were listed as fugitives.
Those arrested, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Dean Boyd, were charged with harboring illegal aliens for an immoral purpose, harboring and transporting illegal aliens and violating the Travel Act, a federal statute that prohibits moving people across state lines for illegal sexual purposes, such as prostitution.
In addition to the criminal arrests, Mr. Boyd said, immigration officials took into custody 46 women who were working at brothels that were shut down. Agents are interviewing the women to learn more about the circumstances surrounding how they came to the United States and how they were treated once they arrived, he said.
"This type of criminal organization exploits the hopes and dreams of immigrants," said U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang in Los Angeles. "In this case, they exploited women, some of whom apparently suffered injuries as a result of their work. My office works very hard to eliminate these types of exploitation and to secure punishment for those who engage in them, seeking to profit at the expense of others."
Mr. Boyd said the investigation focused on a criminal organization called the "Jung Organization," which reportedly smuggled South Korean women into the United States and then provided them to brothel operators. …