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Two Irvine Women Accused Of Running Sex Trafficking Ring That Spanned Nation

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Authorities filed charges Wednesday in a sex trafficking operation that was being run out of Orange County and spanned several U.S. states, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Authorities say the operation mainly targeted Chinese nationals, sending them to businesses and residences out in Minnesota and North Dakota. The ring also stretched across 29 different states, say authorities. In Cottage Grove, Minnesota, police picked up signs of a sex operation when they came across a house purchased by traffickers that housed nothing but two beds and a line of men waiting to have sex, according to Pete Orput, Minnesota's Washington County Attorney

According to the Star Tribune, a daily newspaper in Minneapolis, four individuals were charged on Wednesday. They included Hong Jing, 48, Sophia Wang Navas, 49, and Fangyao Wu, 23. Jing and Navas are alleged to head the operation from their base in Irvine. Wu is Jing's daughter. Another individual, 28-year-old Dongzhou Jiang, was also charged. Authorities say he served as a "regional boss" out in Minnesota.

Orput said that authorities have identified at least six victims who were between the ages of 32 and 49. He added that there may be more victims who have yet to be identified. Orput added that the traffickers had threatened the women with deportation, and that they were forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day. He said it's unclear what "pipeline" led the victims into the United States.

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“These victims were especially vulnerable, as they were trapped in a foreign country where they barely spoke the language and sold for sex,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement, according to the Star Tribune. “Today marks significant progress in our statewide efforts to combat human trafficking.”

The individuals charged each face six felonies, including racketeering, aiding and abetting in sex trafficking, and aiding and abetting in the promotion of prostitution.