BOSTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors charged three people on Wednesday with running a high-end brothel ring in apartment complexes in greater Boston and northern Virginia, whose clients included elected officials, technology and pharmaceutical executives, lawyers, professors and military officers. .
Federal prosecutors in Boston have not identified any of the “wealthy, well-connected clientele” they say paid up to $600 an hour for sex with mostly Asian women exploited in sex trafficking.
The alleged operators of the brothels – Han Lee, 41, and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Massachusetts and James Lee, 68, of California – were arrested and charged with conspiring to coerce and induce women to travel to engage in to illegal sexual activities.
Acting U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said the investigation is “just beginning” and law enforcement is gathering more evidence after executing search warrants in locations in Massachusetts, Virginia and California.
These searches included active brothels and discovered financial documents, cash and women suspected of engaging in prostitution, according to court records.
“We are committed to working closely with our federal, state and local partners to hold accountable the people who ran this ring and those who fueled the demand for this ring,” Levy said during a news conference.
Han Lee and Junmyung Lee, both Koreans, were taken into custody by a judge following a hearing in Massachusetts. Han Lee’s lawyer declined to comment. Other defense attorneys did not respond to requests for comment or could not be identified.
According to the charging documents, the defendants, led by Han Lee, used upscale apartment complexes as brothels in Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts, and in Fairfax and Tysons, Virginia.
Two websites advertised dates with Asian women, and customers were subject to a vetting process that included providing photos of their driver’s licenses and the names of their employers, prosecutors said. The US government has seized the domains of these sites.
Authorities said they believed the brothel network potentially had hundreds of customers, who Levy said “often paid monthly fees to be part of this illicit club.”
Clients included politicians, pharmaceutical and technology executives, doctors, military officers, professors, lawyers, business executives, scientists and accountants, prosecutors said.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston, editing by Alexia Garamfalvi; Editing by David Gregorio and Michael Perry
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