The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed criminal charges against three people who allegedly ran a “high-end brothel network” that sold sex to elected officials, business executives, and military officers.
The network has been operating since at least July 2020, serving clients near the nation’s capital and in the Boston area, the DOJ announced on Wednesday. The brothels provided prostitutes to a wide range of upper-class clients, including doctors, lawyers, professors, and government contractors with access to classified materials.
“Pick a profession,” acting US Attorney for Massachusetts Joshua Levy said of the network’s clientele. “They’re probably represented in this case.” The DOJ didn’t identify any of the clients.
The three defendants in the case are Han Lee, 41, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Massachusetts; and James Lee, 68, of Torrance, California. They were charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.
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The group allegedly operated brothels out of luxury apartments in Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts, as well as the Washington suburbs of Fairfax and Tysons, Virginia. “This commercial sex ring was built on secrecy and exclusivity, catering to a wealthy and well-connected clientele,” Levy told reporters in Boston. “And business was booming, until today.”
Prosecutors claimed that the defendants enticed Asian women to travel to the brothels to engage in prostitution. Their services were offered through two websites that ostensibly offered nude Asian models for professional photography.
Clients were required to go through a verification process to be eligible for appointment bookings, which included providing their full names, contact information, driver’s license photo, employer information and references, the DOJ said in a statement. Hourly rates ranged from $350 to $600, depending on the services being offered, and payments were made in cash, according to prosecutors. Clients often paid a monthly fee to remain eligible for bookings.
The DOJ said an investigation into the sex buyers is “active and ongoing.” Search warrants are being executed in Massachusetts, Virginia, and California. “There are potentially hundreds of individuals who took those services as commercial sex buyers,” Levy said.