FIVE INDIVIDUALS INDICTED FOR COERCING AND ENTICING WOMEN TO TRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION
BOSTON, MA - Five individuals were arrested today on charges relating to sex trafficking of women.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations in Boston; Susan Dukes, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Division; Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Chief Paul Keenan of Quincy Police Department; Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson; and Chief Michael Kent of Burlington Police Department announced today that a 14-count Indictment was unsealed charging HONG WEI, a/k/a “Ms. Chen,” 37, of Flushing, New York; JING LIANG CHEN, a/k/a “Mike,” 30, of Quincy, MA; XIANG HUA ZHANG, a/k/a “Darren,” 27, of Flushing, New York; DONG KAI CHEN, 41, of Quincy, MA; and YU EN JIN, a/k/a “Eric,” 26, of Quincy, MA, with one count of Conspiracy to Transport and Entice Women to Travel for the Purpose of Prostitution, one count of Inducing Travel to Engage in Prostitution, one count of Sex Trafficking by Force or Coercion, two counts of Forced Labor, two counts of Harboring or Concealing Aliens, and seven counts of Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering.
As alleged in the Indictment, from August of 2004 through February of 2010, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to entice Asian women to travel to Massachusetts for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. The conspiracy involved the use of advertising in various newspapers in New York, California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere, seeking the services of Asian women to work in the defendants’ brothels. The women, who generally arrived at the South Station Bus Terminal in Boston, were transported by the defendants to various apartments where they engaged in prostitution. The apartments were located in Boston, Quincy, Stoneham, Wellesley, Newton, Woburn, Malden, Peabody, Somerville, Burlington, Watertown and Medford. Some of the women were not legally in the U.S. when they were harbored in the brothels, and some were forced to work in the brothels. The Indictment charges defendants WEI and JING LIANG CHEN with sex trafficking and harboring illegal aliens and using force, fraud and coercion to cause the women to engage in a commercial sex act which the defendants benefitted from financially. The Indictment charges all of the defendants with engaging in a conspiracy to coerce and entice women to travel to Massachusetts for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.
All five defendants were arrested today, three in Massachusetts, two in New York. All defendants will make their initial appearance today in the district where they were arrested. If convicted, defendants WEI and JING LIANG CHEN face a maximum sentence of life in prison on the Sex Trafficking charge, 20 years in prison on the Forced Labor charges and 10 years on the Harboring charge. All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the Conspiracy and Inducement of Travel for Prostitution charges, and defendants WEI and XIANG HUA ZHANG face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on each of the Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering charges.
United States Attorney Ortiz said, “successful prosecutions of traffickers rely heavily on the cooperation of victims and law enforcement’s ability to gain their trust. The District of Massachusetts is working with outstanding case agents, investigators and advocates who understand the complexity and sensitive issues facing victims of human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking.”
“Human trafficking is a widespread crime that exists in both urban and suburban communities, as today’s arrests demonstrate,” said Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart. “ICE investigations reveal that victims of these crimes often suffer threats of physical and mental abuse.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Boston Police Department, Quincy Police Department, Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, and the Burlington Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan in Ortiz’s Organized Crime Strike Force Unit.
The details contained in the Indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.