A man arrested by McLennan County Sheriff’s investigators as they looked into a human trafficking case that extended across the country and to China has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Zhao Chen Shi had been arrested at a home in the Houston area as the investigation unfolded in 2017.
It started in September of last year as McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci determined that a trafficking ring operating locally was bringing women from China and sending them around the country for prostitution.
Sheriff Parnell McNamara says Scaramucci obtained a federal commission to continue his work on the investigation and traveled to New York City and other locations, accompanying an agent with the Department of Homeland Security.
Over a 6 month period search warrants were served in Houston and Dallas and eventually in New York.
The New York City stop resulted in the arrest of Lin Yu, who has since been indicted by a McLennan County Grand Jury on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Hang Zheng was arrested in Austin for engaging in organized crime.
It was determined that 16 Chinese women were working for the ring in Waco, Houston, Austin, Brooklyn, Queens, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Boston, New Orleans, Galveston, Victoria and locations in Canada.
Initially $57,000 in cash was seized.
When Zheng’s residence was searched, an additional $20,000 in cash and a Rolex watch appraised at $38,000 was seized.
At the time of the arrests, Sheriff McNamara noted that the girls were often worked out of hotels and motels with contacts made through social media.
He said, ” These women come to the United States looking for the American dream and find they cannot get out.”
He noted that they have no cars, are given little cash and have no way to break free from those they are working for.