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Two guilty over Jakarta sex trade

From CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden

United States
Crime, Law and Justice

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two men pleaded guilty in Virginia state Tuesday to plotting to recruit young Indonesian women and teenage girls to come to the United States to work as prostitutes and nude dancers, in what Justice Department officials termed "reprehensible" and "evil."

Officials said Hans Gouw and Harjanto Komala -- residents of northern Virginia who are from Indonesia -- entered their pleas in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, admitting to charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, immigration fraud, ID document fraud and money laundering.

The women and girls they sought to bring to the United States ranged in age from 15 to 23, officials said.

Although the guilty plea made no mention of slavery charges, an official statement said the women and teenage girls would not have been allowed to leave the employment for at least a year, would have had their documents confiscated and would have been closely monitored while living in a house under the control of Guow, the ringleader.

Guow and Komala will be sentenced in July.

"Trafficking in persons for sexual purposes is a debased and degrading practice which must be stopped," said Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta. "The department is committed to eradicating this evil."

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty who oversaw the prosecution also condemned the conspiracy, and said it marked the first major case in his region.

"The defendants attempted to exploit vulnerable teenage females by bringing them to the United States for sexual activity. This type of human trafficking is the most reprehensible type of criminal conduct," he said.

Court documents described in detail the methods by which the conspirators interviewed the girls -- including one as young as 15 -- and assessed their beauty and physical attributes for suitability as nude dancers and prostitutes.

Law enforcement officials managed to bust the sex trafficking ring before the women left Indonesia only because they had previously arrested the conspirators last November on other crimes, and continued their investigation.

Guow and Komala are among 27 defendants charged as a result of Operation Jakarta which in November broke up a huge identification document fraud ring centered in Virginia, but reaching nationwide.

All types of IDs, including Social Security cards, passports, and work documents, were illegally made and distributed to Indonesian immigrants in the United States to allow them to seek asylum under false pretenses.

To date, 19 of the defendants have pleaded guilty, seven are fugitives and one awaits trial. Only Guow and Komala were involved in the sex trafficking, officials said.

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