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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 21 Members of a National Prostitution Trafficking Network Charges Also Include Money Laundering and Narcotics Distribution

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 17, 2010
  • Southern District of New York (212) 637-2600

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 U.S. 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."

Operation Seoul Mate
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. I also want to commend U.S. Attorney Bharara and his able team for their prosecution of this important case."

According to the Indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court and the record of the case:

Since October 2009, the FBI has been investigating a network of prostitution businesses in New York City’s Korean community, which engage in illegal sex trafficking. This investigation, aided by confidential sources, undercover officers, and recordings (including court-authorized wiretaps), uncovered a network of brothels in New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The brothel owners frequently pay livery car drivers and others to identify and transport Korean prostitutes throughout the United States to New York and elsewhere for the purpose of illicit sexual activity. In many cases, the prostitution businesses formally purport to be legal enterprises, such as massage parlors or health spas, but in fact generate the vast majority of their revenue through illegal prostitution. In all, the investigation uncovered at least 20 brothels throughout the United States.

In addition, two defendants—EUN SOOK CHANG, a/k/a "Jackie," and SEOK CHO—were also charged in a conspiracy to commit money laundering by illegally transporting $25,000. Two other defendants—GI HO KANG and DAE WOO KIM—are charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. KIM is the only defendant in the Indictment who is not charged in the interstate transportation for illegal sexual activity conspiracy.

The charge of conspiring to transport individuals in interstate commerce for the purpose of illegal sexual activity—of which 21 of the defendants are charged—carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. In addition, EUN SOOK CHANG, a/k/a "Jackie," HYUN LEE, a/k/a "Jennifer," EUN SUN, a/k/a "Cindy," a/k/a "Sumi," SEOK CHO, MYUNG YOON LEE, a/k/a "Kevin," MI AH SO, a/k/a "Naomi," HYE KYUNG CHON, a/k/a "Tae Hee," FNU LNU 2, a/k/a "Philadelphia Madame," HAE KYUNG LEE, a/k/a "Na-Kyung," and FNU LNU 1, a/k/a "Na-Kyung's Driver," are charged with additional counts of transporting individuals between states, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The narcotics charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Mr. BHARARA praised the efforts of the New York Asian Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the FBI and the NYPD, and thanked the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Southern District of Texas for their assistance. He added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office's Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys MARK D. LANPHER and DANIEL S. GOLDMAN are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment discussed above are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

City and State of Residence
Maximum Penalty
EUN SOOK CHANG 61 West New York, NJ 45 years
EUN SUN 45 Bayside, NJ 15 years
HYUN LEE 32 New York, NY 15 years
SOO JUNG 37 Flushing, NY 5 years
SEOK CHO 58 Flushing, NY 45 years
HYE KYUNG CHON 43 Fayetteville,NC 15 years
MI AH SO 52 Flushing, NY 25 years
HAE KYUNG LEE 41 Whitestone, NY 15 years
FNU LNU 1 Unknown Houston, TX 15 years
HYUN KIM 62 Flushing, NY 5 years
FNU LNU 2 Unknown Philadelphia,PA 15 years
FNU LNU 3 Unknown Flushing, NY 5 years
MI-YOUNG LNU Unknown Unknown 5 years
GI HO KANG 48 Palisades Park,NJ 45 years
DAE WOO KIM 48 Flushing, NY 40 years
YONG LEE 49 College Point,NY 5 years
MYUNG YOON LEE 31 Oakland Gardens, NY 15 years
CHUL MIN CHO 38 Little Neck, NY 5 years
CHUNG HSUEH LI 44 Flushing, NY 5 years
JASON KIM 33 Syosset, NY 5 years
DO KYOUNG KIM 48 Flushing, NY 5 years
PAUL TURPANJIAN 48 Ridgefield, NJ 5 years


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