OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Three men who were part of a statewide sex trafficking ring have been sentenced to state prison terms after entering guilty pleas in a Santa Clara County courtroom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Tuesday.
Pengcheng Cai, Dafeng Wen, and Peishin Lee will be required to serve sentences of up to approximately eight years in prison for sex trafficking, labor trafficking and money laundering. The guilty pleas announced were in addition to a sentence of 10 years and eight months previously secured against Jing Chiang Huang.
The charges came after multiple joint takedown operations resulted in several arrests, as well as the rescue of more than a dozen suspected victims.
The Contra Costa and Santa Clara DAs and 14 Bay Area law enforcement agencies were among those who took part in the operations.
"Whether it's trafficking, money laundering, or any other crime, California is committed to holding those who break the law accountable," Bonta said in a news release.
Huang, Cai, Wen, Lee and two other individuals were charged in 2019 with a total of more than a dozen felonies that were allegedly committed between 2015 and 2019 related to sex trafficking of multiple victims, tax fraud and money laundering.
As part of the trafficking operation, the crime ring used Backpage.com to place advertisements for sex and forced the women to commit sex acts at multiple brothel locations. In addition, the ring also withheld at least one victim's passport and threatened future job opportunities.
A fifth defendant is currently set to be arraigned on December 27 and the final defendant, Shao Lee, is currently considered a fugitive and remains at large.
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