Defendant in prostitution case appears in federal court - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Defendant in prostitution case appears in federal court

The manager of a St. Martin massage parlor made an appearance in federal court Monday. (Photo source: WLOX) The manager of a St. Martin massage parlor made an appearance in federal court Monday. (Photo source: WLOX)
ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) -

The manager of a St. Martin massage parlor, accused of running a prostitution operation from the business, made an appearance in federal court Monday morning. But her hearing was postponed until a Korean translator can be found.

Yeon Sook Hwang is accused of transporting women from several states to South Mississippi for the purpose of prostitution.

“Sex trafficking is a huge part of human trafficking,” says John Jones, the executive director of a group called Advocates for Freedom.

Johns says the allegations that Korean women lived at the business and were forced to work as prostitutes is not at all unusual in such cases.

“Very common. You will find people brought in for specific purposes and they will actually be forced to live, sleep, eat in the place they're being held,” said Jones.

The district attorney talked about “enslavement” and “indentured servitude” in this case, and Jones says that’s exactly the right description.

“When you call it what it is, it really does paint a good picture for it. When you say prostitution, a lot of people think well she's trying to make money. She's doing this. She's doing that. But people are not prostitutes. They're being prostituted. It is against their will. People need to realize that,” Jones said.

Yeon Sook Hwang made a brief appearance in federal court Monday morning, alongside her defense attorney, Jim Davis. She was wearing a jail jumpsuit along with shackles on her arms and legs.

Hwang was scheduled to be arraigned on federal charges that included transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, along with money laundering charges.

However, the hearing never took place. They are in need of a Korean translator, so the arraignment was postponed until Dec. 4 at 11 a.m.

“The more people know about what's going on, the more they can take a stand. The more education that's done, the better things will be,” said Jones.

State charges will also be pursued in the case. However, the district attorney’s office in Jackson County says they likely won’t be filed until after the federal hearing.

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