The last of four defendants in an international sex trafficking ring that had roots in Minnesota has been sentenced for her role in the crime.
Sophia Wang Navas, 50, was sentenced in Washington County District Court on Friday to twelve and a half years in prison for her role in the international sex trafficking ring. She was officially convicted of one count of racketeering and one count of aiding and abetting sex-trafficking.
As part of an arraignment, Navas agreed to forfeit all profits from the criminal enterprise and pay fines totaling almost $20,000.
“This brings to a close a significant joint effort between the Ramsey and Washington County Attorney’s Offices to curtail the trafficking of human beings in our region,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. “The victims in this case were especially vulnerable, as they were trapped in a foreign country where they barely spoke the language and sold for sex.”
According to the criminal complaint, Navas was one of the leaders of organization from her home in Chino Hills, California. As we wrote about on the blog in the past, other defendants received 8 1/2 and 4 1/2 year sentences, and a fourth received a 20 year probation sentence. Navas received the strongest sentence because she was seen as more involved than the others.
Court details show that the sex trafficking ring, which ran from February 2015 until February 2017, involved more than 20,000 advertisements on Backpage.com. One of the defendants helped to find establishments and private homes for the women to work out of in Minnesota and North Dakota, and the women were forced to earn at least $800 a day or else they faced punishments. Many of the victims were beaten, robbed or raped while being forced to work for the trafficking ring.
Records show that the trafficking took place all around the Twin Cities, in places like Oakdale, Cottage Grove, St. Paul, Maplewood and St. Louis Park. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said we all need to be more vigilant in spotting and stopping sex trafficking in our community.
“More needs to be done in our community to stop the demand which drives all of this,” Choi said. “We can all start by thinking about how we raise boys and for men to be involved in the solution.”
Sex trafficking is happening in our own backyard, and we want to help prevent this terrible crime. We have resources in the law enforcement community and can help victims get the care and counseling they need to break free from the cycle of abuse. If you or someone you know is in trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm or your local police.