Saturday, February 14, 2009

5 Found Guilty of Forcing Women into Prostitution in L.A.

A federal court jury on Wednesday convicted five people in connection with a plot to lure impoverished young women from Guatemala to the United States with the promise of legitimate jobs, only to then force them into prostitution to repay their supposed debts for being smuggled into the country.

All five defendants are illegal immigrants themselves, four of them women from Guatemala who also worked as prostitutes.

As the verdicts were read, the five defendants sat expressionless, as they did through much of the monthlong trial before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. Each of the five faces a potential life sentence, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The case presented by prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of 10 young women who said they were forced to work as prostitutes and turn over their pay to the defendants.

Only one woman said she knew she was going to work in the sex trade before arriving in Los Angeles. The others said they were expecting to work as baby sitters, housekeepers, waitresses or in other jobs in which they hoped to earn up to $10 an hour, far more than they could in Guatemala.

Only after they arrived in the U.S., the young women testified, were they told the truth about what they would be doing.

Read the rest of the story in the LA Times

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