A Torrance man is one of three charged with running a commercial sex ring on the East Coast that catered to elected officials, military personnel and other wealthy clients, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
James Lee, 68, of Torrance, along with Han "Hana" Lee, 41, and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Massachusetts were arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice others to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. Prosecutors said they made hundreds of thousands of dollars through the scheme.
The three allegedly facilitated the movement of predominantly Asian women across the country for sex trafficking, Acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said in a press conference.
"This commercial sex ring was built on secrecy and exclusivity, catering to a wealthy and well-connected clientele, and business was booming, until today," said Levy.
The brothels were allegedly located in Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as outside of Washington, D.C., in Tysons, and in Fairfax, Virginia, according to prosecutors.
Han and Junmyung are accused of running the day-to-day operations of the Massachusetts brothels, and Han is also accused of overseeing the daily operations of the Virginia ones, according to court papers. That included arranging for transportation for the women and collecting proceeds, authorities allege.
- Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase deny benefiting from Epstein's sex trafficking
- Texas man sentenced for sex trafficking minor he kept tethered to hotel room by phone tracker
Prosecutors said James Lee leased several of the current and former brothel locations in Massachusetts and Virginia.
According to officials, one buyer described being provided a "menu" of women, services and an hourly rate.
Buyers allegedly paid approximately $600 per hour for services. Officials said that some even paid a monthly membership fee to be "pre-cleared for sex," a process described as similar to TSA PreCheck.
Authorities have not yet named anyone believed to have used the network's services, but said that none of them have been charged at this time. However, the investigation remains in the early stages and, according to Levy, officials are committed to charging both those who ran the ring, in addition to those who "fueled the demand" for their services.
In Wednesday's press conference, Levy did reveal that the network could have "hundreds of clients," including government contractors with security clearances, doctors, lawyers, elected officials, military officers, professors and executives at tech companies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.