SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A southwestern Missouri man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to transporting a minor across state lines for illicit sex.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Missouri police departments of Cassville and Neosho.
Tong Yang, 45, of Stella, Missouri, pleaded guilty to the charge contained in a Jan. 21 federal indictment.
By pleading guilty, Yang admitted that he traveled to Minnesota Dec. 7, 2013 to pick up a 15-year-old girl and bring her back to Missouri with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.
Yang had contacted the minor victim a couple of weeks earlier by sending her a friend request on Facebook. He talked to her about coming to live with him in Missouri and told her he owned his own business. The minor victim went to her mother's house to retrieve some clothing on Dec. 6, 2013.
While there, she asked Yang to come get her. She met Yang in front of her mother's house the next day. Yang drove her to a hotel in Neosho, Missouri, where they engaged in unprotected sex.
If convicted, Yang faces a sentence of 10 years' to life in prison, plus a $1 million fine. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre-sentence investigation.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.