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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


DECEMBER 18, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


HUMAN TRAFFICKING INITIATIVE


OWNER OF ASIAN MASSAGE PARLORS PLEADS GUILTY

TO TRANSPORTING PERSONS FOR PROSTITUTION


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of two Johnson County, Kan., massage parlors pleaded guilty in federal court today to inducing women to travel across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.


             Wei Li Pang, also known as Linda, 37, a Chinese national with permanent resident alien status residing in Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan this afternoon. Pang was the co-owner and operator of Asian Massage Health Center in Olathe, Kan., and the owner and operator of Oriental Massage in Mission, Kan.


             In separate cases resulting from this investigation, four additional owners and operators of Asian massage parlors in Johnson County have already pleaded guilty to engaging in human trafficking by coercing their employees, who traveled from China, to engage in prostitution.


             From Feb. 2 to May 10, 2007, Pang recruited female Asians to travel to the Kansas City area to work as masseuses. Pang booked and purchased flights for the women and transported them from Kansas City International Airport (MCI) to the businesses. Pang also purchased and facilitated the purchase of supplies to be used in the prostitution activities, including the Saran Wrap that was used in lieu of condoms during the sexual acts in order to avoid law enforcement detection.


             The female Asians worked for Pang from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, and lived inside the massage parlors. In some instances, Pang transported the women from inside the massage parlor to her residence at night. Pang utilized surveillance cameras inside the massage parlors to monitor the female Asian workers. Inside the massage parlors, Pang had her female Asian workers perform sexual services on male patrons in exchange for money.


             By pleading guilty today, Pang also agreed to forfeit to the government $95,000 that was seized from a Commerce Bank account after she attempted to have the money, which represented proceeds of her offenses, wired to China. Pang also agreed to forfeit all cash and monies seized by the FBI during the execution of federal search warrants at her residences and businesses on May 10, 2007.


            Under federal statutes, Pang is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution to her victims. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. They were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the police departments of Overland Park, Kan., Olathe, Kan., Mission, Kan., Lenexa, Kan., and Independence, Mo., and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html