Three men have been arrested for their alleged connection in operating sophisticated high-end brothels in greater Boston and eastern Virginia.
The network’s client list included elected officials, high-tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors who possess security clearances, professors, attorneys, scientists, and accountants, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said.
The Justice Department announced three defendants, identified as Han Lee, a/k/a “Hana,” 41, of Cambridge, Mass; James Lee, 68, of Torrance, Calif.; and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Mass., have been charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Prosecutors said the three made hundreds of thousands of dollars through the “commercial sex ring” that could raise national security concerns about the potential for blackmail.
Acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said the sex ring was built on secrecy and exclusivity, catering to a wealthy and well-connected clientele, and business was booming until the authorities stopped it.
According to court documents, from at least July 2020, the defendants operated an interstate prostitution network with multiple brothels in Cambridge and Watertown, Mass., as well as in Fairfax and Tysons, Va.
**Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news.**
The defendants allegedly advertised their prostitution network primarily on two websites. Women were featured on websites that falsely claimed to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography, and high-end apartments with monthly rents as high as $3,660 were used as brothels, prosecutors said.
Each website allegedly had a verification process that interested customers had to complete in order to be booked for appointments. It required would-be clients to fill out a form, including their full name, email address, phone number, employer, and a reference.
Authorities have not named the people believed to have bought sexual services through the ring, and none of them have been charged. But Levy stressed that the investigation is in the early stages, and said prosecutors are committed to holding accountable both those who ran the scheme and those who “fueled the demand for this ring.”
Levy said there were possibly hundreds of clients.
Authorities used surveillance and phone records to identify sex buyers and interviewed about 20 of them during the investigation, according to court papers. One buyer told investigators he was directed via text message to an apartment and provided a menu of women, services, and the hourly rate.
The news of the arrests reportedly worried some of the users of one online forum on one of the involved websites. One user reacted by writing, “I am scared,” in a thread related to the news of the arrests, according to Business Insider.
Forum users also reportedly told each other not to say anything if approached by federal agents. Others wrote about the embarrassment to high-profile individuals if the brothel’s client list was released publicly. They noted even the mere mention of a name in the story would be enough to ruin someone’s life without ever having been charged with a crime.
One user noted the amount of information that the website requested, including submitting a photo taken of the individual while holding a driver’s license up to one’s face and a “work email verification,” Business Insider reported.
“I’m glad I never participated,” the user wrote.
The charge of conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The office also asked members of the public who have questions, concerns, or information regarding this case should contact USAMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov.