(Top row, l-r) Jiuyin Cui, Hsin Wang, Runan Xia, (bottom row, l-r) Defun Hu, Yiwen Wang
VENTURA COUNTY — Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Tennessen, defining human trafficking as a crime of “forced fraud, or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will,” for the first time on August 24th reported to the media the arrests of five trafficking suspects pursuant to a six-month-long investigation across nine California counties involving deputies from VCSD, the Ventura District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Oxnard Police Department, and the California Franchise Tax Board.
Arrested were Hsin Chieh “Jerry” Wang, 40, Defun Hu, 33, Yiwen Wang, 42, Jiuyin Cui, 63, and Runan Xia, 32, all residents of Los Angeles County. According to Tennessen, these five were responsible for the conduct of a sophisticated network “run much like a corporation” that advertised sexual services on www.backpage.com, and transported dozens of female victims between multiple motels throughout California for the purposes of providing “sex for money transactions.”
Cash proceeds from these crimes was then allegedly “laundered through as many as 50 bank accounts at nine financial institutions,” which was then used to purchase real estate without reporting such income to state taxing agencies.
As many as 28 victims in central and southern California counties were identified, all of whom were non-English-speaking Chinese “expected to engage in commercial sex acts from early in the morning until late at night, every day, as directed by Hu,” Tenneson reported.
Search warrants targeting each of the five suspects were served on August 4th, with approximately $350,000 in cash, bank accounts of $730,000 value, and real estate valued at $1.8 million seized pursuant to evidence discovered during the search process.
Each suspect was transported to Ventura County Jail where they were booked on multiple charges of human trafficking, with their bail set at $5,000,000 each.
Photos: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking
Bob McCullough is a television and screen writer-producer who has worked for every major television network and film studio with more than 200 produced credits. Bob has recently co-authored “Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara”, a hardcover book featuring a wide range of film, television, and music industry celebrities living on the Central Coast. His weekly iTunes podcast about “all things Hollywood” can be heard at http:wherehollywoodhides.com.