WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Sung Bum Chang, a Korean American man who owned and operated the nightclub, “Club Wa,” in Dallas was sentenced to 10 years in prison for forcing young Korean women to work as club hostesses. He was ordered to pay $37,000 in restitution to the victims. On June 12, 2006, Chang pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor and one count of conspiracy to commit forced labor.
“Sung Bum Chang imported innocent young women from South Korea and forced them to work at Club Wa under terrible conditions of fear and violence,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s sentencings demonstrate the Justice Department’s unprecedented commitment to aggressively prosecute these human trafficking cases.”
“Today’s sentences should resonate loud and clear throughout our immigrant community. We, in law enforcement, will continue to aggressively pursue those who exploit and prey on vulnerable immigrants who come to America’s shores seeking a better life,” said Richard B. Roper, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “I am grateful to the Attorney General for choosing the Dallas-For Worth area to receive $1.35 million in federal grant funding so that we may continue to enhance our human trafficking programs by identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking and apprehending and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses.”
“The Changs have demonstrated the depravity common in human smugglers and human traffickers,” said John Chakwin, special agent-in-charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Dallas. “They have shown that human slavery is an ugly crime not just relegated to the pages of history. It exists in the 21st Century, and in the cities and suburbs of America. Our ICE agents are committed to bringing such criminals to justice. I hope Changs’ victims receive some solace with today’s sentencings, which end a long ICE and law enforcement cooperative investigation.”
Chang utilized a smuggling network that recruited young women in South Korea with promises of good jobs in the United States. Chang paid the victims’ smuggling debts, took the women’s passports, and told them they could not leave until they had paid off their debts to him. Chang forced the victims to live in the upper floor of his home, where he restrained their freedom by monitoring them inside the home with interior surveillance cameras and by posting a Club Wa employee at the front door of the home as a guard. Chang required the women to work six nights a week drinking with customers, often until they became sick or passed out. Chang threatened to “sell” the women to other clubs if they disobeyed. One victim escaped the Chang home by leaping from a second-story bathroom window and fleeing with the help of a local pastor, who later reported the case to local authorities.
Human trafficking prosecutions are a top priority of the Department. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, quadrupled the number of defendants charged, and tripled the number of defendants convicted. In 2006, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney J. Evans Rice III. The case was investigated by the Dallas Office of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.