Thursday, July 10, 2014

Woman held in Vancouver over prostitution ring linked to N.Y. Super Bowl parties

'One-stop shopping' drug and prostitution ring, Asian Wave Escorts, busted ahead of Super Bowl
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD worked together for nearly year to investigate the ring, which specialized in drug and sex 'party packs.' The operators had apparently ramped up efforts as Super Bowl XLVIII approached.
BY JOSEPH STEPANSKY , ERIK BADIA , CORKY SIEMASZKO NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014, 8:00 AM Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014, 11:34 PM A A A

CENSORED: Ad for busted escort service
TV Ad for escort service busted in a police raid last week.

A sophisticated Manhattan-based prostitution ring that offered "one-stop shopping" and delivered both drugs and debauchery was sacked just days before the Super Bowl.

"Always a treat and always fast to your door," Asian Wave Escorts promised in sexy come-ons broadcast on public access TV, sources said.

The ring was headed by a middle-aged madam named Hyun Ok Yoonung, a 41-year-old Korean immigrant who officials said is something of a legend in the flesh-peddling business.

"She was really the leader," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday. "This is someone we've heard of from other criminals, really sort of admiring the scope of her enterprise. She's well known in this industry."

Code-named "Beige," the madam was arrested at her Long Island home while police were rounding up the 17 other alleged members of the ring in overnight raids.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Hyun Ok Yoonung was the alleged ringleader of the drug and prostitution ring that used phony companies to accept credit card payments. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the investigation leading to the sting, 'Operation Out of Bounds,' had been going on for a year.
“We have identified in the last year more than $3 million in credit card charges related to this enterprise," Schneiderman said. "Keep in mind that most johns pay cash, so that is a staggering number for an enterprise like this.”

In recent weeks, Schneiderman said, Hyun Ok Yoonung had been ramping-up to tap the wallets of “high rollers” bound for Sunday's big game.

“They had a huge increase in their text messages to people coming in from out of town, saying, 'We've updated our girls, new and sexy girls for you’,” said Schneiderman. “It was a very aggressive push.”

Several of the alleged hookers were nabbed when police used battering rams to burst into an apartment at 990 Sixth Ave. that is just blocks away from "Super Bowl Boulevard."

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
A man is led out of Manhattan's 7th Precinct in connection with an elaborate prostitution ring that was planning to blitz the Super Bowl with hookers.
The women, who also were mostly from Korea, serviced their johns in the single bedroom, where cocaine, crack pipes and Viagra was found, officials said.

“A one-stop shopping drug and prostitution ring,” Police Commissioner William Bratton called it.

One of the tenants in the Sixth Ave. building is The King's College, a Christian undergraduate university that houses some of its students there — and which had no idea it was a den of sin.

More "girls" were operating from an apartment at 207 E. 37th St., police said. And the nerve center of the operation was another pad at 148 E. 30th St.

This was one of the advertisements promoting Asian Wave Escorts, which offered drugs on top of sex.
This was one of the advertisements promoting Asian Wave Escorts, which offered drugs on top of sex.
Now some of the women in police custody are claiming they were forced into prostitution and are cooperating, sources said.

“They brought in new girls every three months," Schnidermann said.

The prostitutes identified in court papers were no spring chickens. They ranged in age from 26 to 56 and four of them were in their 40s.

They also weren’t just turning trucks. Sun Lee Ahn, the 56-year-old police dubbed Sarah, also allegedly booked dates and ferried drugs, sources said.

Ha Joung Heath (right), 40, in Manhattan court Thursday, allegedly led the 'Gold VIP group' in a one-stop shopping drug and prostitution ring.
Ha Joung Heath (right), 40, in Manhattan court Thursday, allegedly led the 'Gold VIP group' in a one-stop shopping drug and prostitution ring.
The bust was the culmination of a yearlong probe by Schneiderman's Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD dubbed "Operation out of Bounds."

The ring specialized in "party-packs," where johns were enticed to buy cocaine and other drugs to go along with the sex.

In some cases, authorities said, the greedy ring took advantage of wasted customers by charging them upward of $10,000 for a single booking.

Using undercover investigators, cops discovered that Hyun Ok Yoonung was running a sophisticated operation divided into three groups. She herself headed the "Butterfly Group," the complaint states.

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Ten women were led out of the precinct ahead of their arraignment for allegedly participating in a sophisticated drug and sex operation.
Her chief co-conspirators were identified in the documents as Young Ok Tae, a 38-year-old code named "Tae," and Kyung Chun Min, 33, dubbed "Nicky" by cops.

The other alleged hooker bookers were identified as Young Mi Lee, 40, dubbed "Jasmine” by investigators, and In Suk Cho, 49, referred to as “HyoJung” in court papers.

The gang's "Gold VIP group" was led by Hajoung Heath, 40, aka "Dada." And the head of the "Jackie group" was identified as 44-year-old Kyong Bin Cho, aka “Jackie,” the papers state.

The drugs were allegedly supplied by 34-year-old Tony Yoo and Joseph Landrum, 32, the papers state.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the ring ramped up promotions with mass texts announcing 'new sexy and beautiful girls' ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII.
"Cocaine was referred to as 'jewelry' or 'Soojaebi,' which is a Korean noodle and vegetables soup," said Schneiderman.

The arrested prostitutes were identified as: Young Mi Lee, 40, Jung Hee Jang, 43, Haiming Quan, 41, Nina Kim, 31, Hada Jang, 26, He Jung Chern, 42, Ji Young Moon, 40, and Janice Lee, 40.

All 18 are charged with conspiracy and several "underlying crimes," including narcotics sales, promoting prostitution and money laundering, the AG's office said.

Schneiderman said the flesh-peddlers rigged it so customers could pay by credit card.

"These people had a phony clothes wholesaler, a phony wig wholesaler, a limo service and a dating service that would show up on peoples credit card bills," Schnidermann said. "They used these businesses to hide their illegal transactions and launder millions of dollars in proceeds."

Woman held in Vancouver over prostitution ring linked to N.Y. Super Bowl parties
Vancouver — The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, Feb. 12 2014, 3:24 PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 12 2014, 5:43 PM EST
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A South Korean woman wanted in the United States for her alleged involvement in a crime ring that sold drugs and prostitutes in New York City prior to the Super Bowl weekend was in detention after she was arrested at Vancouver’s airport, border officials confirmed Wednesday.

The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed officers arrested 44-year-old Kyong Bin (Jackie) Cho at Vancouver’s airport this past weekend. She was expected to be deported, though the exact timing of her removal wasn’t clear.


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Video: Super Bowl sex ring suspect arrested in Vancouver
News of Cho’s arrest comes almost two weeks after U.S. authorities charged 18 people for allegedly running a crime ring that involved selling so-called party-packs of cocaine and prostitutes to people coming to New York City for the Super Bowl.

Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Amitha Carnadin said in an e-mailed statement that Cho allegedly fled the U.S. and arrived in Vancouver on Saturday, from Mexico. Officers then confirmed the woman is wanted on a number of felony charges.

Cho appeared before an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing on Tuesday. A board member found the woman “to have been involved for some time in a criminal organization that provided prostitutes and drugs to clients in the United States,” said Carnadin in the statement.

“These allegations were not disputed by Cho and as a result, the member found her to be inadmissible to Canada,” the email said. “She was issued a deportation order.”

Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman Melissa Anderson said the board considered Cho a flight risk and has ordered her to remain in custody until she is removed from the country.

New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman announced the police bust on Jan. 30.

At the time, he said in a news release that the charges against 18 people were the result of an 11-month undercover investigation. The charges include conspiracy, narcotics sales, promoting prostitution and money laundering.

Schneiderman said the crime ring allegedly made millions of dollars selling drugs and sex to wealthy out-of-towners coming to New York for the Super Bowl, which was played in neighbouring New Jersey.

The group is accused of laundering the proceeds through stores such as a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler, Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman said the criminal activity was based in Manhattan, but spanned across Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens and into several other states.

Police alleged the crime ring advertised its business through the Internet, television and text messages. Code words for cocaine such as “party,” “jewelry” and “soo jae bi,” the name of a Korean noodle and vegetable soup, were used.

The Attorney-General’s Jan. 30 news release alleged the group sold packages that involved having prostitutes bring along cocaine.

“It was common practice for this ring to supply the johns with large quantities of drugs brought by one prostitute, and then once the john was impaired by the drugs, the ring would flood the room with additional prostitutes and repeatedly charge the john’s credit card, at times charging upward of (US)$10,000 for one night,” the news release said.

“Through its various front businesses, the ring would charge credit cards for legitimate goods and services that were not actually provided in order to disguise the fact that customers were actually paying for cocaine and sex.”

More than half of the 18 people charged have been arrested.

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeBC


Halting Human Trafficking
31 Arrests in Major Prostitution Ring


An anti-trafficking poster in Korean is part of a Department of Health and Human Services campaign against human trafficking. Korean women were victimized in the prostitution network shut down this week..
An anti-trafficking poster in Korean is part
of a Department of Health and Human
Services campaign against human
trafficking. Korean women were victimized
in the prostitution network shut
down this week.
A 15-month investigation of a massive prostitution network based in New York and stretching from Rhode Island to Virginia culminated in the arrests Tuesday of 31 defendants in seven states and the District of Columbia, the FBI announced with officials from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the New York City Police Department.

The joint investigation uncovered an elaborate network of brothel owners, recruiters, and prostitutes—Korean émigrés smuggled into the U.S. and then into brothels. Investigators also found a network of money remitters, who transferred some prostitution proceeds overseas, and drivers, who delivered women between brothels—sometimes at great distances, such as two occasions last February when women were ferried from New York City to a prostitution business in D.C.

“Illegal prostitution is not a victimless crime,” Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the criminal division of our New York City office, said during an August 16 press conference in New York. “The FBI is part of the apparatus in place to protect people, sometimes even from their own poor choices.”

Arena said the investigation began in May 2005 after an undercover probe of a prostitution business run by a Korean husband and wife in Queens, New York. Through court-authorized monitoring of the couple’s telephone conversations, investigators saw the reach of the conspiracy—recruiters in the U.S. and Korea were helping women get into the U.S., usually illegally; drivers met them at the airport or the border and then delivered them to brothels in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.

A report by the Department of State earlier this year estimated that up to 2 million people are trafficked worldwide every year, with an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 in the U.S. Investigating human trafficking and other civil rights violations is one of the FBI’s top priorities. In many cases, prostitutes are forced into servitude by their recruiters to pay back the cost of passage out of their countries.

In this case, recruiters in Korea and the U.S. identified Korean women who wanted to come to the U.S., typically to make money to support their families. Recruiters arranged transportation, and in some cases provided the women with false passports and visas. Once in the U.S. and saddled with a large debt (usually in the tens of thousands of dollars), the women were transported to brothels—some that fronted as legitimate spas and massage parlors—where brothel owners or managers often confiscated their IDs and passports, making escape difficult.

“This is a reminder that large-scale human trafficking occurs every day, right in our own cities and neighborhoods,” said Michael J. Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The defendants, charged in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, face up to five years in prison for conspiracy charges and up to 10 years in prison for transporting women across state lines for prostitution.

Madams busted in high-priced Super Bowl hooker ring
By Jamie Schram, Aaron Feis and Bob FredericksJanuary 30, 2014 | 7:30am
Modal Trigger
Madams busted in high-priced Super Bowl hooker ring
A group of alleged Super Bowl madams are brought into central booking in Manhattan on Thursday morning.
Photo: Steven Hirsch

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Authorities took down a high-priced Asian prostitution ring that was hoping to cash in on the Super Bowl.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigators and the NYPD rounded up nine of the operation’s madams and a couple of drug dealers who supplied the hookers, just days before the big game.
“The ring has become much more active in the last two weeks, specifically seeking to capitalize on the excitement around the Super Bowl,” said one source.
“Not only did they cater to New Yorkers, but they also targeted those coming into NYC from out of town by sending text messages to prospective clients.”
Just days ago, ring members sent out a text blast to customers that read “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u,” the AG said.
Seven more madams faced imminent arrest, he added.
Investigators were interviewing hookers who worked for the ring to determine if any were victims of human trafficking, he added.
The AG also warned potential johns to keep their zippers zipped.
“Better to get yourself in front of the TV, watch the game, have a couple of beers, stay out of trouble,” Schneiderman cracked.
Conversations caught on wiretaps revealed members using code names for cocaine, including “party,” “jewelry” and “soojaebi,” a Korean noodle soup.
Authorities said once a customer was zonked on booze or drugs, other hookers would fill his room, and the ring would bill the john’s credit card for $10,000 or more for multiple dates.
Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale said his vice unit also busted up a trio from Florida – which included a mom who had been pimping out her 15-year-old daughter — during an unrelated investigation in Manhattan hotel.
The Yolanda Ostoloza, 39,and her pal Tara Todd, 23, both Florida residents, were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and promoting prostitution, sources said. The male accomplice is still being sought by police.

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