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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Naturalized man from Vietnam sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for laundering proceeds from sex trafficking

DALLAS — A naturalized U.S. citizen from Vietnam was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison June 13 for laundering monetary proceeds from sex trafficking.

The following agencies investigated this case: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Criminal Investigation, U.S. Department of State, and Garland (Texas) Police Department.

During the hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater noted the horrific nature of the crime and added that he was incapable of capturing its heinousness in words. Chief Judge Fitzwater also ordered to pay $16,766 in restitution to the victim.

Duc Luu, 50, was indicted in August 2011 while he was living in Vietnam. He was indicted on one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, and two counts of money laundering. According to documents filed in the case, Luu travelled to Vietnam on his U.S. passport. But shortly after his indictment, the U.S. initiated efforts to arrest and extradite him. Ultimately, the U.S. Department of State revoked Luu's passport and Vietnam expelled him. Luu was then arrested and returned to the Northern District of Texas, where he made his initial appearance in federal court on the charges in September 2012.

Luu pleaded guilty in August 2013 to two counts of money laundering. According to the stipulated facts in the factual resume, in October 2008, Luu caused $12,000 to be wire-transferred from a bank in Texas to a bank in Vietnam, knowing that the funds had been derived from sex trafficking.

Again, in July 2009, Luu caused $26,000 to be wire-transferred from a bank in Texas to the same bank in Vietnam, knowing that these funds also were derived from sex trafficking. Luu was the sender and beneficiary of both wire transfers.

The victim testified at the sentencing hearing regarding the depraved acts of the defendant in recruiting, grooming, manipulating, exploiting and subjecting her to a fraud of the most serious nature.

"Even a harsh prison sentence seems inconsequential compared to the horrors visited on the victim in this case," said Special Agent in Charge David Marwell of HSI Dallas. "Nonetheless, this is a stern warning to criminals who flee justice that Homeland Security Investigations will continue to use our unique authorities and international partnerships to bring criminals to justice, no matter how far they run or in what country they hide."

"I commend the dedication and hard work of law enforcement, not only in their persistence in investigating this case, but in their efforts to locate and rescue victims who may be unable to seek help themselves," said U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. "This district remains vigilant in our efforts to vigorously and aggressively prosecute human traffickers and hold them accountable for their crimes."

"Individuals such as Mr. Luu, who use money laundering to conceal the true source of their money run the risk of federal prosecution and imprisonment," said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Dallas Field Office. "IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling money laundering schemes and assisting our law enforcement partners to ensure that the type of criminal conduct engaged in by Mr. Luu is not ignored. Mr. Luu's sentence is a reminder to criminals that money laundering schemes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Errin Martin, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.