August 16, 2006

Cops arrest 31 for sex trafficking ring

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A sex trafficking ring that smuggled
Korean women into the United States to work in brothels has
been cracked and 31 people arrested, officials said on

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 70 women were in
custody for questioning to see if they were victims of the ring
that trafficked prostitutes between brothels in cities
including New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Prosecutors said recruiters identified Korean women who
wanted to work in the United States. Some were given false
immigration documents while others were smuggled into the
United States through Canada or Mexico.

"By the time the women have been taken into the United
States, the women owe the recruiters and other members of the
criminal organization a large debt, usually in the tens of
thousands of dollars," immigration authorities said in a
criminal complaint.

The women were then made to work as prostitutes to pay off
their debts and traded between various brothels. The brothel
owners and managers kept a large portion of the money paid by
customers and credited the rest against the debts.

"The women are in some instances told or led to believe
that, if they leave the prostitution business before paying off
their debts, they will suffer a range of harms," the complaint
said. "The women are sometimes threatened with harm to their
families in Korea."

Arrests were made in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New
York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. following
a joint investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.