Helen Jean Singh Gets Nine Years in Prison for Trafficking Teenage Girls
Helen Jean Singh, 22, received nearly a decade in federal prison after she admitted to participating in a prolific sex trafficking conspiracy with her husband.
The couple that commits crime together, goes to jail together
As part of a plea bargain, Singh accepted responsibility for trafficking and prostituting teenage girls in the East Bay of teenage females. A federal grand jury indicted Singh and her husband, Mahendar "Mike" Singh, in December 2011. According to the Indictment, Mahendar Singh and Helen Singh recruited the girls and promised money, drugs, and a "family-like environment."
The couple maintained control over their victims by fostering a climate of fear; they gave them drugs, used physical force, and threatened to hurt them. They used the Internet to advertise their prostitution enterprise, which spanned from Sacramento County to multiple Bay Area counties.
The couple was arrested on Aug. 20, 2011, after the South San Francisco Police Department responded to a motel near SFO and found Mahendar Singh with three teenage girls, including two 16-year-olds. According to court documents, the couple used an website to advertise their victims, and used cell phones and text messaging to make arrangements with customers.
"Few crimes strike at our community the way sex trafficking does," U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement released today. "By sexually exploiting children and young adults for financial gain, sex traffickers have shown that greed has no bounds."
Clark Settles, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Francisco, said his office is committed to tracking down sex traffickers like these and helping victims across the Bay Area.
"While no prison sentence can ever compensate for the physical and emotional toll experienced by trafficking victims, this lengthy prison term should serve as a sobering warning about the consequences facing those who engage in this reprehensible practice," Settles said. "Human traffickers prey on the powerless and the vulnerable."
Singh, who remains in custody, was also handed a five-year period of supervised release following her prison term, and ordered to forfeit property and make restitution of $45,000 to one of the victims.
Mahendar Singh, who pleaded guilty on Jan. 18, received the same sentence in April.
Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking are asked to call the FBI, HSI, or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Anonymous calls are welcome.