News and Press Releases

Part of Smuggling Network Illegally Bringing Koreans into U.S. from Canada

February 29, 2008

JUNG WON HWANG, 29, a Korean national, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison and two years of supervised release for his role in an international human smuggling scheme. At sentencing prosecutors noted that HWANG was the person many Korean women paid to be smuggled from Canada across the border into the United States. Many of those women wound up working in massage parlors and brothels to pay their smuggling debts. At sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted that HWANG likely would be deported back to Korea following his prison term.

HWANG was arrested in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands on September 9, 2007, following an extensive investigation of interrelated smuggling cells working between Korea, the U.S. and Canada. Both Korean and U.S. law enforcement investigators believe HWANG had traveled to Saipan in an effort to avoid investigation and prosecution. In court today, prosecutors said HWANG was responsible for smuggling as many as 20 Korean nationals a month into the United States. Most of those smuggled were women. Many of them wound up working in the sex trades to pay off their smuggling fees. HWANG had entered the U.S. illegally in the 1990s and had been deported in 1999.

HWANG was originally indicted on 17 criminal counts on August 16, 2007. HWANG pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Transport and Smuggle Illegal Aliens and two counts of Bringing an Illegal Alien for Financial Gain on November 30, 2007.

Speaking through an interpreter today, HWANG told the court, “I have loved this country, but my days in this country are now over. I want to return to Korea with as many beautiful memories as I can.”

This case, and the investigations of related smuggling cells, is the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ye-Ting Woo, who leads the U.S. Attorney’s Office efforts to prosecute human trafficking.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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