"Prostitution Broker" convicted for international sex trafficking
November 10, 2011
Min Su Cho was convicted yesterday in New York City by a federal jury for her participation in an international sex trafficking conspiracy, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
After a one-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood, Cho was found guilty of conspiring with others to induce or entice women to travel across state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, and for personally transporting individuals across state lines for the same purpose. The 32-year old Cho is the last of 17 defendants to be convicted as part of this wide-ranging, international conspiracy.
Two other suspects charged in the conspiracy case remain fugitives.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The conviction of Min Su Cho closes a chapter in the prosecution of those responsible for a vast, international sex trafficking ring that exploited countless women. This guilty verdict also sends a clear message to others engaging in similar conduct that they will be punished.”
Pint-sized woman who robbed masseuse ID'd as sex trafficker
By JAMIE SCHRAM, Police Bureau Chief
Last Updated: 1:07 PM, May 12, 2011
The pint-sized woman busted for robbing and terrorizing a Manhattan masseuse has been identified as a sex trafficking pimp, authorities said today.
Blond-haired half-pint, Gi Bae, 27, ruled her Murray Hill brothel with an iron fist, forcing at least two of her hookers to fork over 50 percent of their earnings from their Johns, sources said.
Bae, who stands 5-foot-4 and weighs 110 pounds, also required her prostitutes to cough up an additional $1,000 a month to live in the whorehouse at 225 East 35th Street.
But the greedy Bae ran into trouble when she roughed up and stole two Korean passports from one of her former hookers, police sources said.
On Sunday, the former hooker turned the tables on Bae and helped police arrest her during a sting operation.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged Bae with sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.
Police bust prostitution ring, rescue 10 women
by Florante S. Solmerin
POLICE rescued 10 women, two of them minors, from a prostitution den in Malate, Manila and arrested five persons in separate raids Monday night.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director Chief supt. Samuel D. Pagdilao Jr. said the Manila-based prostitution syndicate was run by Korean national Mihn Byong Kil and his 25-year old girlfriend Marian Andog Bagonoc.
Arrested were Bagonoc, Petronilo R. Barin, Juan Carlo Endriga, and Roberto Alburo, and Carlito Yu.
Kil was able to elude arrest.
Police raided a unit at the Villa Veronica Condominium in Vito Cruz which served as a holding area where the 10 victims were rescued, and Unit 26-B of the Hyatt Manila Residential Suite at 1588 MH Del Pilar St. Pedro Gil, Manila, which was the syndicate’s base of operations.
The CIDG will file charges against the owners of the condominium and hotel.
Alburo and Yu, security guards at the Hyatt Manila, were arrested for allegedly preventing the police from conducting their operations.
Pagdilao said the delay gave the Korean mastermind time to run away.
Endriga, on the other hand, was arrested in an entrapment operation at the Sogo Inn branch in Malate before the raids were conducted.
“The operation against this syndicate stemmed from a complaint lobbed by three victims who reported that they were deceived by Bagonoc who offered them employment as masseurs but they ended up as prostitutes instead,” Supt. Emma Libunao, head of the CIDG’s Women and Children Protection Division, said.
She said a massage service used by the syndicate, known as “Little Orange Massage Service,” was merely a front that existed only in an advertisement posted in a Korean magazine.
“In reality, Kil and Bagonoc operated their syndicate from 26-B in Hyatt Manila where they received calls from Korean clients. Once an order-call was received from a Korean client, Bagonoc, who operates this order-by-phone massage service in Hyatt, will arrange for a rendezvous between the client and the female escort at a particular hotel or inn where the ‘masseur’ performs extra service in the form of sexual services,” Libunao said.
Twenty-One Members of a National Prostitution Trafficking Network Charged in New York
Published on: 2010-11-20
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and RAYMOND W KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York ("NYPD"), today announced charges against defendants involved in a multi-state, illegal sex trafficking and prostitution network. The defendants are alleged participants in a network of illegal sex trafficking that includes brothel owners, managers, brokers, transporters, and advertisers. In addition, two of the defendants are charged with money laundering and two others are charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. Of the 22 defendants charged, 15 were arrested or surrendered in and around New York City; two—SEOK CHO, and HYE KYUNG CHON, a/k/a "Tae Hee,"—were arrested in North Carolina; and one—FNU LNU 1, a/k/a "Na Kyung's Driver,"—was arrested in Texas.
Four defendants—HYUN LEE, a/k/a "Jennifer," HAE KYUNG LEE, a/k/a "Na Kyung," FNU LNU 2, a/k/a "Philadelphia Madame," and CHUNG HSUEH LI, a/k/a "James,"—remain at large. The defendants arrested today in and around New York City are expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court this afternoon. Manhattan United States Attorney PREET BHARARA said: "Trafficking in human flesh and sexually exploiting women for financial gain is all too common and simply will not be tolerated. As today's arrests demonstrate, we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners at the FBI and the NYPD to shut down these networks." FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JANICE K FEDARCYK said: "Beginning late yesterday afternoon and continuing through the early morning hours, the FBI and task force members carried out the arrests of multiple individuals throughout New York City and other locations across the country.
All but one of the individuals involved in this web of corruption are charged with conspiring to transport individuals in interstate commerce for the purpose of illegal sexual activity. This network operated behind the facade of businesses represented as legal enterprises, but their cover has been blown. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to weeding out this, and all types of criminal activity in order to maintain the integrity and safety of our communities." Special Agent Tim Flannelly, supervisor of the FBI’s Joint Asian Criminal Enterprise Task Force, briefs members of the operational team before the arrests and searches take place. Photo credit: FBI NYPD Commissioner RAYMOND W KELLY said: "It takes a special depravity to take women from their home 6,880 miles away and exploit them here. However, the suspects hadn't counted on the fact that the NYPD and the FBI would be waiting for them in America.
Sex trafficking ring across four states busted
NEW YORK | Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:44pm EST
(Reuters) - Authorities closed down 20 brothels masquerading as massage parlors and arrested 22 people for running a sex trafficking and prostitution network involving Korean women across four states, officials said.
The New York Asian Organized Crime Task Force, comprised of FBI and New York police investigators, uncovered a network of brothels in New York state, Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania over the past year.
Prosecutors said brothel owners were transporting Korean women around the country for prostitution.
"Trafficking in human flesh and sexually exploiting women for financial gain is all too common and simply will not be tolerated," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement released late on Wednesday.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, "It takes a special depravity to take women from their home 6,880 miles away and exploit them here."
Most of those arrested were charged with transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison on conviction.
Herbert: The hidden slave trade
By Bob Herbert Published: October 30, 2007
NEW YORK: The woman testifying in U.S. federal court in Lower Manhattan could hardly have seemed more insignificant.
She was an immigrant from South Korea and a prostitute, who spoke little or no English. She worked, she said, in brothels
in New York, Philadelphia, Georgia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Washington.
She did not offer a portrait of the good life. Speaking through an interpreter, she told about the time in Washington when
a guy came in who looked "like a mental patient, a psycho." Weirded out, she wanted nothing to do with him. But she said
the woman who ran the brothel assured her everything would be fine.
It was fine if you consider wrestling with Hannibal Lecter fine. The john clawed at this woman, gouging her flesh, peeling
the skin from her back and other parts of her body. She was badly injured.
'SEX SLAVE' NIGHTMARE
By KATI CORNELL
October 24, 2007 -- A prostitution ring operating in the city and suburbs exploited Korean immigrants by forcing them
to work 'round-the-clock shifts as prostitutes, and swapped women from state to state to keep customers coming back,
a federal jury heard yesterday.
Five brothel owners "raked in thousands of dollars each week . . . off the sexual labor of these women," using stores
disguised as massage parlors in Midtown, Queens, Waterbury, Conn., and Washington, D.C., Assistant U.S. Attorney
Elie Honig said.
"These women were shipped, stocked, rotated around to meet their customers' demands," Honig said in opening
statements. "[The brothels] needed and wanted turnover. They needed to have different women there to keep the
Investigators bust alleged prostitution ring at massage parlor
Last updated: 7/10/2007 4:50:16 PM
ARAPAHOE COUNTY - 9Wants to Know has learned investigators busted a massage parlor on Tuesday where they say South Korean prostitutes were trafficked from Los Angeles.
The owner of "The New King's Spa," a massage parlor located at 2048 S. Pontiac St., has been charged with pimping and is currently in jail. Her name has not yet been released.
Undercover investigators tell 9Wants to Know the owner had been directing the transport of women from South Korea to work at the massage parlor, bringing them in through Los Angeles for the purpose of prostitution. However, it does not appear the women were being held against their will, an investigator said.
The case, which has been ongoing for a few months, culminated in the arrests Tuesday after undercover officers stopped some "Johns," or male customers, as they were leaving the facility. The men admitted to paying for sex, investigators said, so a search warrant was executed on the business at about noon.
Concern over illegal brothels in WA
The State Opposition has used the case of seven Korean sex workers who were tied up during an attempted robbery in Inglewood at the weekend to highlight the issue of illegal brothels.
In the early hours of Sunday morning three men threatened a secretary who was leaving the premises with a knife, and then broke in, binding and gagging the sex workers.
Police are now investigating the robbery and whether the women were working in Australia illegally.
The Opposition's Police and Justice Spokesman Rob Johnson says laws needs to be enforced to stop the spread of brothels that employ illegal immigrants.
He says further regulation is also needed to protect sex workers.
"My understanding is that there is quite a few particularly illegal immigrants in Perth and throughout Western Australia who are operating in brothels." he said.
Report cites Korean women as major group of trafficking victims in US
WASHINGTON, June 6 (Yonhap) -- Korean women accounted for a large number of victims of sex trafficking in the United States during fiscal year 2006, the latest report by the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The annual report, submitted to Congress late May, said the U.S. government provided emergency assistance to more than 100 Korean women in New York, New Jersey and Washington.
It did not give country-by-country statistics on the number of victims.
Some trafficking victims are granted "continued presence," allowing them to legally reside in the U.S. when they are potential witnesses in the investigation or prosecution. According to the report, South Korea, Mexico and El Salvador were countries with the highest number of victims to be given such temporary stay permits.
The permits were granted to victims from 24 nations.
South Korean officials here said trafficking rings involving Korean women were getting bigger and more sophisticated in their operations, and U.S. investigators were granting more temporary permits to secure more witnesses and conduct deeper probes.
"Some of those that obtain this status are victims of other kinds of labor abuse, not just sex trafficking," one official said, speaking without giving his name.
Brothel slams illegal rivals
May 31, 2007 10:57 AM
By John Mulcair
The Black Garter is big, with almost 30 ''working rooms'', offices, waiting and staff areas and a commercial laundry spread over three floors. Slumped glass and natural stone is used extensively.
Its spokesman zeroed in on the health management differences between adequately run legal brothels and illegal operations.
''The biggest problem at the moment is Korean women. It used to be the Thais. They come here on beauty training courses, enrolling at TAFE,'' he said.
''They stay in illegal brothels and they get talked into it by the other girls working there.
''With $1000 a week in the hand, they don't turn up at TAFE after a couple of days. But they'll be working 10am to 3am seven days a week, often with no protected sex in very dirty premises.''
He said the women working at the Black Garter might be uni students, people between jobs, single mothers, girls passing through Sydney in their travels, all educated.
''Some only work here for a few days, usually to raise money to pay the bills, but those who work regularly have to provide health certification every two weeks,'' he said.
''We provide sex hygiene educational materials; all our ladies read English.
''All equipment for maximising personal hygiene is provided. The illegals don't have to do any of that.''
Modern-Day Comfort Women
Korean Massage Parlor Networks
The Korean brothels in the United States are set-up and run in an extremely stereotyped manner, but have no overarching coordination or hierarchy. A shared understanding of how to operate the brothels, high degree of rotation through the networks, and informal ties between transporters and owners have all contributed to the relative uniformity of their networks.
The three actors described below operate independently, but belong to the same general network of groups that do business together.
Broker-> Arranges for the smuggling of women into the country.
Taxi Service-> Monitors the needs of the different brothels and transports women between them, filling the positions.
Brothel Operator-> Manages a brothel, including hiring, firing, and controlling the women. May or not be the owner, or may own the brothel and a few others.
The examples below are different typical configurations of a sex trafficking network in the United States, based on the operations of the Korean massage parlor networks.
Brokers-> Brothel Operator
In New York City and L.A., Korean brokers who have smuggled women illegally into the United States sell the women to a Korean massage parlor operator. The brothel operator buys the value of their smuggling debt, and will require the women to either pay it off, work it off, or a combination of both. The brothel operator has no formal ties with the brokers, but does business with them when new employees are required. The connection between the broker and the brothel operator may have been facilitated by a Korean taxi service that monitors openings in the brothels.
Recruiters-> Brothel Operator
In Flushings, NY, an area in Queens with a large Korean community, recruiters will go to legitimate Korean massage establishments for women, and may say that the women can make much more money at another job doing the same thing. The recruiter will arrange for the transportation of the women to a Korean massage parlor in another state. When the women arrives, she discovers from the brothel operator that she must pay back the value of the transportation, the lodging and food, and will only receive tips, forcing her to provide sex to customers to make enough money to pay off the debt.
An alternate arrangement may involve a recent Korean immigrant arriving in New York or L.A., with thousands of dollars of debt to pay off. A Korean taxi service driver will advise her that the fastest way to pay off the debt is to work at a massage parlor. For a fee, he brings her to a massage parlor, where the woman is pressured strongly to provide commercial sex to the customers or risk being fired. The Korean taxi services monitor the needs of various brothel operators, and transport women between them. They are well known in the networks for taking advantage of the women through fraud and exorbitant charges.
Sentencing of former Sunnyvale officer in sex case set for today
15-YEAR VETERAN AIDED TWO PROSTITUTION RINGS 05/07/2007
Miller, 41, pleaded guilty two years ago to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit extortion for providing protection
to two Korean "hostess bars" that recruited women from Korea by paying their traveling expenses
and getting them visas before forcing them to repay their debts through prostitution.
Brothel just part of trade
Sun Im An arrived in the United States in the mid-1980s from her native South Korea, uneducated, alone,
with only a light grasp of English.
Several years later, she turned to prostitution to support herself and her young son, said her lawyer,
Francisco Celedonio of New York City.
But it was her foray into the sex trade that eventually led to her arrest, Celedonio said.
In August 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they uncovered a network of brothels,
masquerading as massage businesses, that stretched from Rhode Island to Washington, D.C., and included York County,
where women were kept as sex slaves.
Prostitutes, Traffickers Abusing Australian Visa Rules
On September 25, a Korean cram school instructor left for Australia with a
"working holiday" visa. The working holiday visa is available to people
between 18 and 30 from certain countries including South Korea who want to
visit Australia and supplement their travel funds through incidental employment.
A broker had told the instructor that she could learn English and make money
by working in a restaurant, but when she arrived in Australia she was forced
into prostitution in a Chinese-run brothel in New South Wales.
The brothel manager took the instructor's passport and visa and forced her to
service customers until she paid off a "debt" of US$20,000 (US$1=W928).
On October 14, the instructor took a day off due to menstruation and managed
to contact the local police and escape.
Police here say that Australia's working holiday visa rules are increasingly abused
by Koreans going overseas for prostitution. Recently Seoul Metropolitan Police indicted
without detention three traffickers who had sent 89 Korean women including
college students to red-light districts in Australia.
While some of the trafficked women were duped liked the instructor, many knew
exactly what they were getting into. "Ms. H" was one of them.
H left Seoul for Australia on a working holiday visa after she saw an online
advertisement that promised wages of up to W4 million a month for working in "bars."
H ended up in a saloon for Koreans in Sydney.
8 spas raided in prostitution sting
Two women charged with prostitution at Pearl River massage parlor
Remote Access, NY
(Original publication: April 20, 2007)
PEARL RIVER - Two Queens women have been charged with prostitution after police raided a Middletown
Road massage business for the second time in just more than six months.
The two women working at the Asian Therapy Center were accused of giving back rubs without a license
and fondling the private parts of their male customers.
Ming Shu Yuan, 42, and Yeun Hwa Baik, 41, both of Flushing, were each charged Wednesday night with a
felony count of unauthorized practice of a business and misdemeanor counts of prostitution and third-degree
Each of the women was released on $1,000 bail pending a hearing Monday in Orangetown Justice Court.
The Asian Therapy Center also was raided in October 2006, when Clarkstown police arrested two different
women from Flushing on prostitution charges. The dispositions of charges against Ji Jin Yu, 47, and Tina Kim,
42, were unknown yesterday.
On its Web site, Nagoya Body Bath
advertises that it's just a few short miles from downtown. Prices range from $40 to $60.
At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dallas police, the district attorney's office and federal agencies raided Nagoya Body Bath
and seven other businesses that authorities say were operating as brothels and have possible links to human trafficking.
Dallas police get forfeited cash, cars
3 were convicted last year in investigation of Asian brothels
11:21 PM CDT on Monday, April 9, 2007
By TANYA EISERER / The Dallas Morning News
Federal authorities announced Monday that the Dallas Police Department had received about $462,800 in cash and vehicles valued at about $72,000 that had been forfeited as part of a wide-ranging investigation into Asian brothels.
The forfeited vehicles included a 2001 Mercedes S500, a 2001 Mercedes SLK 230 and a 2001 Chevrolet van.
"A key to reducing crime is to take away a criminal's profits," U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper said in a prepared statement. "What criminals meant for evil, is being used for good."
Seven spa sex cases resolved
Seven of the nine people charged last year with running four spas that were alleged fronts
for Korean prostitutes
have entered or scheduled guilty pleas or had their charges dismissed,
leaving a mother and daughter to decide whether to face trial.
30,000 Korean Women Sell Sex in Japan 03-28-2007
About 30,000 Korean women are working as prostitutes in Japan, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Rep. Park Jae-wan of the largest opposition Grand National Party has researched online communities that link
entertainment places and people for the past six months and found that 40,000 to 60,000 illegal Korean emigrants reside in Japan.
Among them, about 30,000 Korean women work in the sex trade.
It isn't only women who move to Japan for the sex business. Many young Korean men have also gone to Japan to work as prostitutes, he said.
Some of the brokers bragged about being a gigolo in Japan, saying that they can guarantee 10 million won in income per month along with Japanese language learning opportunity.
Park said that there are more than 70 online communities at a portal site serving as middlemen for prostitutes and their clients, and among them, more than 41 were actively working.
Though serving as a middleman for prostitutes is strictly prohibited in Korea, the online world has found ways to sneak past the authorities.
One of the postings mentioned that all the workers at the clubs and bars are Koreans and 90 percent of the visitors are Japanese.
It said that the job itself does not pay well but it can connect the worker with wealthy men who would offer big money in exchange for sex.
Those who apply for the jobs are sent not only to Shinzuku, Akasaka and Ginza in Tokyo but also to Osaka or Kobe, or even some rural areas.
In addition, many Korean women are said to be visiting Japan on forged passports, identification cards or driving licenses.
More Koreans Engage in Sex Trade in US
The number of Korean women engaged in prostitution overseas _ both voluntary or forced - has been steadily increasing after the government's crackdown on the domestic sex industry in 2004.
According to the U.S. State Department on Monday, based on the law for protecting victims of slave trading,
the country provided shelter to 230 foreign victims in 2005 and Koreans accounted for the largest portion at 23.5 percent.
Although victims of labor exploitation are included in the victims of slave trade, most of the Korean victims were involved in the sex trade, according to the officials.
Yoon Won-ho, a lawmaker of the ruling Uri Party who has been leading an investigation into the Korean sex trade in the United States,
said it was highly likely the illegal activity was enjoying a rebound in Korean communities abroad through underground means, such as massage parlors, bars, private homes and the Internet.
Sex slave figure is sentenced
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Anthony Gar Lau, 46, operated Golden Flower Steam and Sauna Spa, one of 11 Asian massage parlors raided in July 2005 by federal agents who were investigating a Korean sex-trafficking ring.
Lau is among 29 people indicted by a federal grand jury in 2005 in connection with the raid.
Investigators said the sex-trafficking ring allegedly brought young women from Korea and forced them to work as sex slaves in Asian massage parlors and unmarked apartments in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
During the "Operation Gilded Cage" raid, 104 Korean women were removed from 11 San Francisco massage parlors.
State Department Releases 2006 Reports on Human Rights Practices
The U.S. State Department in a report on human rights released Tuesday said that although prostitution is illegal in South Korea
it is widespread thanks to massage parlors and Internet-based sex services. A separate report also released by the State Department on Tuesday said
that North Korea's dictatorship remains severely abusive towards its people.
The South Korea report said that while antiprostitution and antitrafficking laws passed in 2004 have helped to protect victims of prostitution
and punish those engaged in the practice, some organizations are concerned that sex tourism to China and Southeast
Asia is becoming more prevalent.
The report said that the antiprostitution laws have driven the practice underground,
citing a study that says massage parlors have replaced traditional brothels for 60 percent of men who bought sexual favors.
According to the State Department, the Internet was also used more frequently to arrange sexual encounters.
It said that on average, only 15 percent of those booked for prostitution were actually prosecuted.
New York City Man Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking Charge
A Queens, N.Y., man was sentenced to serve 38 months in prison for attempting to recruit a Korean
woman whom he believed to be a minor to work as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced today.
Do Hyup Bae was also ordered to forfeit $50,000 to the government for his role in the trafficking scheme.
Bae previously pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2007, to charges relating to
the operation of a network of over 25 Korean-owned brothels that were located throughout the northeastern part of the United States,
including New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Several of these brothels were located in Queens, N.Y.
Trafficking of women probed in sex case
Posted on Mon, Feb. 26, 2007
The county Sheriff's Department is investigating whether an alleged house of prostitution near Atascadero is connected to a Northern California crime ring involved in the trafficking of Asian women.
An advertisement in the New Times newspaper massage therapy section showed the business was open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and had an Atascadero location but no address, only a phone number.
That alleged sex business advertised as Palm Health Center massage therapy operated out of a single-story home in the 13000 block of San Antonio Road, according to a search warrant affidavit.
During his massage an Asian woman told him to turn over onto his back then grabbed his genitals and told him she would perform oral sex for $100, the warrant stated.
During the massage a woman reportedly reached inside his underwear and touched his genitals.
Police said they learned that three women usually worked at the house but were replaced every third day by other women from San Jose.
All of the women were Korean, police said.
Top madam earned millions
According to RCMP-Vancouver police
Glenn Bohn, with a file by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, February 16, 2007
Police in Vancouver believe they have arrested the No. 1 madam in the Lower Mainland: A female pimp named "Pinky" who allegedly made more than $1 million a year from the sexual services provided by Korean women entering Canada as tourists.
A steady stream of male customers or "johns" followed her business as it moved from house to house in Vancouver and Richmond, until a police raid last week at the latest "Pinky's Place" in Richmond.
"I'm pleased to announce the vice unit has arrested what we believe is the No. 1 pimp or madam operating residential bawdy houses in the Lower Mainland," Sgt. Matt Kelly of the Vancouver police vice unit said Thursday at a joint RCMP-Vancouver police news conference.
"This operation is estimated to generate between $1 million and $1.3 million in tax-free dollars each year," he said.
Despite the magnitude of those alleged profits, Kelly said, the 42-year-old woman now in custody was brazen enough to file for a GST rebate.
"Needless to say, Revenue Canada is also interested in this file and her income," Kelly added.
The accused is Zhe Nai Xu. She is now in custody at the Surrey pre-trial centre, awaiting her yet-to-be-scheduled trial.
Xu faces a host of prostitution-related criminal charges, some of which are punishable by a maximum prison term of 10 years.
She is charged with four counts of transporting a person to a common bawdy house, two counts of keeping a common bawdy house and one count of living off the avails of prostitution.
Police disclosed that they have been looking into "Pinky's" activities since 2003.
That year, they investigated an alleged bawdy house at Main Street and 18th Avenue in Vancouver and another somewhere on Southwest Marine Drive. "Pinky" was found at the bawdy house but wasn't charged.
In 2004, a house near Granville Street and 53rd Avenue was under police watch. Again, no charges were laid. Kelly said investigators still didn't have sufficient evidence to recommend criminal charges.
Then, in 2006, investigators believe the business moved to a house at Kingsway and Wessex Street in east Vancouver. Kelly said warrants were issued by the Vancouver vice unit. But he said "Pinky eluded us at Wessex and we picked up her trail again to 6000-block Granville Avenue and No. 2 Road in Richmond," in late 2006.
"Pinky" was already a "person of interest" for the police in Richmond. At that point, a Vancouver police investigation became a joint Vancouver police-Richmond RCMP investigation.
"We continued on, into January 2007, when we finally tracked her down to 8031 Williams Road in Richmond," Kelly said.
Land registry and property assessment records show Xu is the registered owner of the $951,000 house at 8031 Williams. It's a large, newer home located beside an empty lot with only a PetroCan gas station and a 7/11 convenience store facing the front of the house. Smashed glass from the front window of the house is the only evidence of last week's police raid.
She also owns a $879,000 house at 6000 Granville, which is on the corner lot of a busy intersection with No. 2 Rd. Not a single house faces the property. A high laurel hedge obscures the driveway loop from view.
Xu owned and lived in a $527,000 condominium at 54-7233 Heather Street. It's a corner unit of a large recently built development. The front door is not within view of any of her immediate neighbours. Catalogues and mail on the front stoop were lying uncollected Thursday afternoon.
Restraining orders have already been placed on those properties, effectively blocking the sale of the assets until a possible conviction and court order to forfeit the property to the federal government under proceeds of crime legislation.
Police raided the house on Williams on Feb. 8.
RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen said a heavily-armed and armored Emergency Response Team was deployed at Williams, in case it was hard to get into the house or suspects inside had firearms. The RCMP helicopter, Air One, was hovering overhead. In total, about 70 police officers joined the raid.
Thiessen said the house was "heavily fortified," with bars on the windows and the steel-reinforced doors.
Police found seven women and eight male customers at Williams; police arrested Xu at her Heather condo.
Police are still looking for a person that Thiessen described as an "associate" of Xu. They want to arrest Di Chen Li, 35, of Richmond, on charges of living off the avails of prostitution and keeping a common bawdy house.
According to police, the women found at the Williams Road house ranged in age from their early 20s to early 30s. Police estimated that 150 johns a month came through the house. Investigators observed 20 men in one two-hour period. Those men will likely be required to attend an education program.
Kelly said the women went directly from Vancouver International Airport to the house in Richmond and began turning tricks almost immediately.
The Korean women were detained by officials with the Canada Border Services Agency and issued exclusion orders because they working without authorization, agency spokeswoman Janis Fergusson said. She said the federal privacy law prevents her from disclosing whether the women are still in Canada. Another federal agency -- Citizenship and Immigration Canada -- will investigate potential violations of Canada's human trafficking law.
Kelly said the Korean women may not have appreciated what kind of business they would be working for.
"I don't know if their eyes were wide open," he said. "I think they understand what massage means, and it has a sort of different translation sometimes overseas, indicating some type of sexual contact. But I don't know if they were prepared for [the full range of sexual activities] which were expected in these bawdy houses."
Massage parlor bill
Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, has spent two years crafting a bill regulating massage therapy.
In early 2005, after police raided Norwalk's Tranquility Spa and charged six South Korean women with prostitution,
Duff called for the state to regulate massage parlors to weed out those who provide sex.
for 19th time Sansom St. 'massage parlor' has 13-yr. history of arrests
Vice cops found themselves in familiar territory Jan. 11, when they busted a Korean prostitution ring at 1112 Sansom St.
It was the 19th time in the past 13 years that an investigation had led cops to the same seedy Center City massage parlor, said Narcotics Chief Inspector William Blackburn.
Over the years, police have arrested 74 prostitutes at the parlor.
Six more women - several of whom are illegal immigrants - were added to the arrest tally during last week's raid.
Police said Kyung-Ae Kang, 35, and Kee-Eun Song, 31, were charged with prostitution, solicitation and related charges.
Joung-Sook Kim, 29; Sun-Ja Kim, 35; and Sun-mi Joung, 32, were all charged with misdemeanors for being in a house of prostitution.
Mi-Sook Park, 47, was charged with promoting prostitution.
She was overseeing the brothel and the women, cops said.
Several months ago, federal officials busted a Korean human-trafficking ring that stretched up and down the East Coast and included a brothel in North Philadelphia.
New York Man Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking
January 18, 2007
NEW YORK -- A man from Queens, NY, pleaded guilty today to attempting to recruit a Korean woman
whom he believed to be a minor to work as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.
FBI Busts Korean American Sex Trafficking Ring
Bay Area attorneys seek help, asylum for victims
By Ji Hyun Lim
AsianWeek Staff Writer
According to the United Nations’ conservative estimate, there are 4 million women who are involved in sex trafficking nationwide. And in the United States alone, the Department of State reports that a minimum of 50,000 women, children and some men are trafficked every year.
In response to these growing problems, the FBI busted a national prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering criminal enterprise this July. In this particular raid, FBI officials say that the owners of Crystal Palace Nightclub and Ok Yeo Bong bar in Sunnyvale, Calif., were involved in a sex trafficking ring where immigrant women were forced to have “dates” and sex with customers in exchange for rent, utilities and cost incurred to transport them into the U.S.
The FBI first discovered this particular operation in Tennessee, where there were hostess bars with suspicious documents, including layouts and floor plans that suggested brothel activity. After months of investigation, the FBI discovered that these bars were connected to the bars in Sunnyvale.
The nine to 12 victims of the sex trafficking in Sunnyvale, mostly Korean women, have been held in custody and may be deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence (NDSDV), Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Gabriela Network and other community groups have offered to work with the INS to provide legal rights and social custody information to the Korean women victims of the Sunnyvale sex trafficking ring.
Nalini Shekar, an NDSDV social worker, points out that having access to these women has been difficult. “The government should give us the ability to work with them and give them access to provide social services and legal services,” Shekar said. “We have lawyers who can speak their language. We want to provide shelter, social services [and] legal services that they might require.”
This is not the first time the Bay Area APA community has been rocked with such a case. In 2000, a Berkeley landlord named Lakireddy Bali Reddy was accused of immigration violations and transporting girls from India for illegal sexual purposes. The case was first discovered after two teenage girls allegedly brought from India by his were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes in one of his apartments in November 1999. One of the girls, who was identified as Sita Vemireddy, 17, died. Reddy was sentenced to serve more than eight years in prison and was ordered to pay $2 million in restitution.
According to Ivy Lee, staff attorney at API Legal Outreach and co-chair of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Task Force (BAATT), the INS’s standard operating procedure is to detain sex workers who are not lawfully documented and place them in the Yuba County jail where there is no language accessibility for them. Meanwhile, the government initiates removal proceedings.
“With the trafficking or operations, women and children aren’t allowed to speak to anyone except the [club owners’] attorneys who tend to be in collusion with the traffickers or may be somewhat ignorant to what the trafficker does,” Lee said. “Their job is to get them bonded out and then reassert them in a criminal operation, and get them working again.”
However, Lee argues that victims of sex trafficking have rights in the United States. Victims may be eligible for T and U visas authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 that are specifically tailored to provide relief to victims of sex trafficking and other criminal activity.
The interim guidance from the Department of Justice also says that prosecutors are not supposed to initiate proceedings if there are any suspicions that the women are victims of sex trafficking.
“The INS initiated removal proceedings, and the majority of the women were [let out on bail],” Lee pointed out. “They do the same thing every time. Ninety percent of the time, we see them over and over again. They will [appear] in both L.A. and N.Y. immigration court.”
There are continued efforts by community groups to set up a relationship with the INS and law enforcement to let these women know they have legal rights. Social workers and counselors request access to these women to provide their services. API Legal Outreach wants to build a cooperative relationship with law enforcement officials who will then contact them for legal services for these sex trafficking victims.
“We are worried because [the INS procedures are] very secretive,” Shekar said. “Our biggest concern is that we don’t want [these women] to be deported. In some cases when we have intervened right in the beginning and worked with the DA’s office cooperatively, it has always been more successful for both the prosecution as well as the victims.”
Lee added, “There’s a lot of public sentiment that these women came here and deserve this. The important thing for the public to start thinking about and communicating to their representatives and law enforcement [is] that these are victims of sex trafficking and indentured servitude, slavery. It’s modern-day slavery.”