7 Jan 2008

Leaders in prostitution racket in American Samoa sentenced

6:29 am on 7 January 2008

The two ringleaders of a prostitution racket in American Samoa, Shengji Wang and Fu Sheng Kuo, have been sentenced by the US federal court in Honolulu to more than five years in prison.

The two Chinese nationals will be deported after serving their sentences.

Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of their victims.

Wang and Kuo, along with several co-defendants, operated a scheme to recruit and import Chinese women who were then forced into prostitution in nightclubs and brothels in American Samoa.

Upon arrival the victims, who were unpaid, were denied access to their passports and return airline tickets, and were denied the opportunity to leave until they had paid off increasing debts.

In April 2007, two co-defendants, Kueiling Chen and Lili Zhang, both Chinese nationals, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport women in foreign commerce for purposes of prostitution, based on their roles in the same scheme.

In August 2007, Iona Uiagalelei, of American Samoa, pled guilty to using intimidation and threats to persuade witnesses to provide false testimony during the human trafficking investigation.

In September 2007, Zhang was sentenced to 11 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release, and Chen to six months imprisonment and three years of supervised release.

Uiagalelei a former department director will be sentenced January 7.