OAKLAND, Calif. – A former Sacramento, Calif., man pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to violate the federal sex trafficking laws following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
In pleading guilty, Mahendar "Mike" Singh, 40, admitted that he and a co-defendant, also formerly of Sacramento, conspired to operate a prostitution enterprise during the spring and summer of 2011 throughout Sacramento and the Bay Area.
Singh admitted recruiting teenage girls to provide sex services in exchange for money and drugs and acknowledged he knew that at least one of the teenagers was a juvenile. Singh also admitted he and his co-defendant maintained the victims' services by promising them a family-like environment and by using threats and physical force. An affidavit filed in connection with the case alleged the defendants used an Internet website to advertise their services and made arrangements with customers via cell phones and text-messaging.
A federal grand jury indicted Singh and his co-defendant on the sex trafficking conspiracy charges on Dec. 1, 2011. He remains in custody and his sentencing is set for March 28 in Oakland, Calif. His co-defendant remains free on bond pending trial.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiring to commit sex trafficking is lifetime imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, forfeiture, and restitution.
The South San Francisco Police Department, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office and the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice also provided assistance in the investigation.
Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking is encouraged to call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or ICE's toll-free tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE. Individuals may also report information online by visiting www.ICE.gov/tips.