Hearing in Mississippi human trafficking case delayed, defendant needs interpreter

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GULFPORT, Mississippi — The manager of a St. Martin spa speaks little English and needs an interpreter before federal authorities can move forward with her detention hearing.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1NbvBIs) the business was shut down Friday amid allegations of human trafficking and prostitution.

The hearing, scheduled for Monday, was moved to Dec. 4 to give officials time to find an interpreter for her.

Yeon Sook Hwang, also known as Jackie, has been indicted on one count each of human trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.

Hwang, 41, headed up operations at JJ Spa. The registered agent was identified as Hana Sanghee Bergeson.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney Tony Lawrence shut down the business on Friday because of what Lawrence described as "organized criminal activity, indentured servitude and enslavement of people" allegedly going on at the business. They served the temporary restraining order to shut the business down to both Hwang and Bergeson.

At the time of the law enforcement raid there Wednesday, four women, all believed to be sex slaves, were living at the spa. Food and water were brought in to them because they were not allowed to leave, authorities and neighbors confirmed.

Authorities then received statements from people at the business who said sex acts had occurred there.

All of the women working as alleged sex slaves were Korean nationals under the age of 30 who spoke very little English. They have been removed from the business and moved to an undisclosed location.

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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