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Guam bar owner gets life for sex trafficking

Friday, September 21, 2012    

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HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A Guam bar owner was sentenced yesterday to life in prison in a sex trafficking scheme to force Micronesian women and a 16-year-old girl into prostitution, the US Department of Justice said.

Song Ja Cha, 70, must also pay US$200,000 in restitution to the victims and pay a US$10,000 fine.

After an eight-day trial, she was found guilty on all 20 counts of an indictment that charged her with sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, coercion and enticement to travel in interstate or foreign commerce for prostitution, and transportation of a minor for prostitution.

According to the indictment, from February 2004 to January 2008, Cha and others lured about 10 victims to come to Guam from the island of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia. She promised the young, mostly poor and uneducated women and the teen legitimate employment as waitresses or store clerks at her bar, the Blue House Lounge. The Compact of Free Association allows Chuukese nationals from Micronesia to travel and work in the United States and its territories.

Instead, the victims were forced to work for 12 to 14 hours a day in six rooms of the Blue House offering commercial sex. They were told that if they ran away, the police would arrest them, the indictment said. Their passports were taken away and all their phone calls were monitored.

The women were verbally and physically abused and were denied food when male customers complained about their performance. Cha also took them to a clinic to be injected with birth control shots, the indictment said.

"The defendant preyed on the hopes and dreams of these young victims, forcing them into a life of prostitution," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division.

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