New court date set for spa manager accused in Jackson County sex-slave case


GULFPORT -- Yeon Sook "Jackie" Hwang will return to federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing on charges of human trafficking, conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.

Hwang was in court Monday for the detention hearing but it was rescheduled because she speaks little English and an interpreter was not available. The case was moved to Dec. 4, but was moved up to Tuesday after authorities arranged for an interpreter to be there then.

Hwang, 41, headed up operations at JJ Spa on North Washington Avenue in the St. Martin community. The registered agent of the business is Hana Sanghee Bergeson, who has not been charged with any crimes in the case.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office shut the business down last week for what authorities described as "organized criminal activity, indentured servitude and enslavement of people" taking place there.

Four Korean nationals, all women believed to be sex slaves, lived at the business and were not allowed to leave.

In the federal case, Hwang, with the help of others, is accused of bringing the women to Mississippi to work as sex slaves. The women were brought in from California, Texas, Georgia, New York, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas, officials said. The are alleged to have begun in August 2012.

The ongoing investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the spa began more than a year ago. District Attorney Tony Lawrence said state charges are pending.

The FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, the Attorney General's Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office are investigating the case.