Dispatcher in human trafficking ring sentenced

(Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

A San Gabriel woman who acted as the dispatcher for a prostitution ring that trafficked dozens of female Chinese nationals and used the online classified-ad portal Backpage.com was sentenced to 11 years and four months in state prison.

Defeng Hu, 33, appeared before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Young on Wednesday for sentencing. Hu pleaded guilty Jan. 19 to one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, four counts of pimping, seven counts of money laundering and one count of filing false income tax.

Hu is the fifth defendant to plead guilty in the case. In February 2016, a Ventura County sheriff’s detective located an advertisement on the Backpage.com advertisement portal under the Ventura County section that was labeled “escorts.” The advertisement included photos of an Asian female “in sexually provocative clothing and poses” offering services in a Camarillo hotel, authorities said.

“Hu would take calls from the ‘Johns’ answering the Backpage ads and depending on where the Johns were calling from, she would then call the woman and tell them to go to the hotel and tell them an individual was coming for a job,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Suttner.

During a search of Hu’s residence, she tried to flee from law enforcement officers and jumped from a third-story balcony, fracturing her ankle. When she was arrested, detectives found she was carrying $24,000 in cash and various cellphones and ledgers, Suttner said. (Read full article here)