WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Sung Bum Chang, the former owner of a Dallas nightclub known as “Club Wa,” pleaded guilty to forced labor charges. Chang’s wife, Hyang Kyung Chang, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the employment of unlawful aliens. While operating Club Wa, Chang used an international human-smuggling network to bring young South Korean women into the United States. After smugglers brought the victims to him in Dallas, Chang forced them to work as club hostesses.
Chang pleaded guilty to charges of Conspiracy and Forced Labor in violation 18 U.S.C. § 1589, which prohibits using physical restraint or threats of serious harm to obtain another person’s labor. As part of his plea, Chang admitted that he required at least five victims to live at his residence and work as hostesses at Club Wa six to seven nights a week. The victims were required to entertain customers at the club so that the customers would buy more liquor. Chang held the victims’ passports and warned them that they were not allowed to leave until they paid their smuggling debt to him. Chang further restricted the victims’ freedom of movement by monitoring them with a video surveillance system inside his home and business and by placing employees as guards at the exits. One of the victims, desperate to be free from the conditions imposed on her, escaped from the Chang house by leaping from a second story window and fleeing with the help of an anonymous person.
“Human trafficking is a moral evil that is nothing less than modern-day slavery,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who perpetrate these reprehensible crimes.”
“This 21st century form of involuntary servitude is most insidious,” said Richard B. Roper, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “We, in law enforcement, will continue to aggressively pursue those who exploit and prey on vulnerable immigrants who come to our shores seeking a better life.”
Chang agreed that his conduct violated federal law. The maximum penalty for such violations is 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2006.
The government’s case is being prosecuted jointly by the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by Special Agents from the Dallas Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In the last five fiscal years, the Department’s Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, increased by 871 percent the number of sex trafficking cases prosecuted as compared with the previous five years. And, with four months remaining in the current fiscal year, the Department has already convicted more trafficking defendants this year than in any other single year on record. In March 2006, the Justice Department issued a comprehensive report summarizing our anti-trafficking accomplishments, which can be found online at: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/trafficking_report_2006.pdf.