A suspect in a sex trafficking ring in four Bay Area counties who had been a fugitive for four years has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and placed on three years’ probation, prosecutors said.
Wen Yen Gold, 44, was one of 10 people who were charged in January 2011 with pimping, pandering and human trafficking in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties but she had remained at large until she surrendered to authorities on Feb. 17.
Last Thursday, Gold pleaded no contest to a lesser charge, a misdemeanor count of operating a house of prostitution, prosecutors said.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Scott Patton then sentenced Gold, also known as “Maple Gold,” to three years’ probation and imposed a fine against her. Prosecutors didn’t disclose the amount of the fine.
Hayward police said they began an investigation in 2010 after neighbors complained that a residence in the city’s downtown was operating as a brothel.
Hayward police said they eventually concluded that the suspects who were operating the brothel were involved in a widespread prostitution ring operating throughout the Bay Area involving women forced to work as prostitutes, possibly victims of human trafficking.
On Jan. 20, 2011, after a year-long undercover investigation, search and arrest warrants were served at 10 locations in Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties as well as San Francisco, according to police.
Investigators said women were trafficked from China and Taiwan to work in the various brothels.
Ten women were rescued and provided with support services. Ten suspects, including Gold, were charged with various crimes including conspiracy, pimping, pandering and human trafficking.
Hayward police said Gold’s arrest last week concludes a lengthy investigation, which led to the exposure and recognition of the large Asian brothel underworld in the Bay Area.
They said the brothels are only a small portion of the illegal sex trafficking industry in the U.S.
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