Six people are facing federal charges for their roles in money laundering and supporting brothels through a variety of means in New York.
Kwang Kyu Kim, Hyun Kyung Han, Hong Nae Yi, Beirne Lowry, Tien Chih Wang and Zhengyi Lu were arrested on Monday and charged in Manhattan federal court for a “scheme to provide financing and other support services to brothels in the New York metropolitan area.”
According to the allegations, since 2012, the Diplomatic Security Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York have been investigating money laundering in connection with a network of Korean brothels that are located in the New York metropolitan area.
Officials said that the brothels are independently owned and operated, and they receive financing and advertising from common sources. Kim, Han and Yi allegedly provide financing for several brothels in Manhattan, including by issuing loans with high-interest rates to Korean brothel owners and employees. They also operate rotating credit associations in which individuals, who are often involved in the commercial sex industry, contribute a fixed amount each month and then receive the lump sum on a rotating basis.
It is alleged that they’ve provided or assisted in providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund brothels.
The indictment further alleges that Lowry, Wang and Lu provide advertising services to Korean brothels in Manhattan. They allegedly reate and maintain individual websites for brothels, which include sexually suggestive photographs and coded language for specific commercial sex activities.
Lowry also allegedly registered and promoted a website that aggregated information and advertising for brothels in the New York metropolitan area. Wang and Lu are charged with coordinating online reviews for the brothels’ commercial sex services and facilitated the brothels’ purchase of commercial sex advertisements on third-party websites.
The six have been charged with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and one count of committing money laundering. Each count faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. They are scheduled to appear in federal court at a later date to answer the charges.
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