Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Minnesota judge sentences California woman for sex trafficking

STILLWATER, Minn. — A California woman who profited from an international sex-trafficking ring that preyed on foreign-born women in Minnesota won't be going to prison.

After reaching a deal with prosecutors in the case, Fangyao Wu, 23, of Irvine, Calif., received a stayed sentence Monday, Nov. 13, in Washington County District Court after pleading guilty to one felony count of racketeering, court records say.

That means Wu won't have to serve prison time provided she follows the terms of her 20-year probation. Those terms include completing 100 hours of community service.

Wu previously faced six felony charges in the case, including two charges of aiding and abetting the sex-trafficking of an individual.

As part of her agreement, Wu is expected to cooperate on the criminal cases still pending against the three others charged in the bust, which was led by Washington and Ramsey county officials.

Two of the three, including Wu's mother, Hong Jing, and Dongzhou Jiang, a Blaine man who managed the enterprise's local logistics, have already pleaded guilty in the operation. The third, Sophia Wang Navas, is taking her case to trial.

Navas and Jing, both of Irvine, Calif., are accused of heading up the enterprise on the West Coast.

At her sentencing hearing this week, Wu acknowledged that she knew about the trafficking operation and that she had benefited financially from the enterprise, according to information provided by the Ramsey and Washington county attorneys' offices.

Her role in the criminal activity was limited, though, authorities say.

The sex-trafficking ring ran from February 2015 until February 2017 and involved nearly 20,000 advertisements for sexual services placed on Backpage.com, according to legal documents.

Jiang coordinated the logistics of the enterprise in Minnesota and North Dakota, finding establishments and private homes for the women to work out of and collecting the money paid to them by clients, the complaint said.

He told officers that the women, who ranged in age from 32 to 45, were forced to earn at least $800 a day or risk getting fired. He also said they had to pay for food, housing and transportation.

Jiang admitted that some of them were raped, beaten and robbed by clients, charges say.

Most of the women were foreign-born, mainly Chinese or Korean nationals. Locally, they served clients across the Twin Cities, including Oakdale, Cottage Grove, St. Paul, Blaine, Maplewood and St. Louis Park.

While announcing charges in the case last winter, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput described a Cottage Grove home used as a meeting place for clients and sex workers.

Little more than two mattresses were found inside the townhome, along with "a line of men" waiting to have sex with three women inside the residence.

Jing and Jiang are scheduled to be sentenced in December. Navas' next court appearance will be in February.

Advertisement