LEADERS OF CONSPIRACY TO TRANSPORT WOMEN FOR PROSTITUTION SENTENCED TO PRISON
Seattle Area Residents Ran Brothels or Escort Services Using Undocumented Asian Women
A brothel operator and a couple who ran an escort service were sentenced to prison today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Furtherance of Prostitution. All three are Chinese Nationals who will be deported following their prison terms. YONG JUN KANG, 36, of Seattle was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Furtherance of Prostitution, Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Aliens, and Conspiracy to Launder Money. KESHENG ZHU, 38, and his wife RUJING JIANG, 36, both of Seattle, were sentenced for Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Furtherance of Prostitution. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced ZHU to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release and JIANG to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
The three were among nine people arrested in August 2006, following a 21-month investigation using confidential informants, court approved wiretaps, and GPS tracking to identify those involved with a highly organized national network prostitution ring. YONG JUN KANG operated brothels in Portland and Seattle. KANG conspired with others to transport Asian women, most of whom were illegally in the U.S. to work at his brothels for ten to fourteen days. The women would then be transported to other brothels in other cities. RUJNG JIANG, and KESHING ZHU, ran an escort service in Seattle that was a front for prostitution. The couple provided Asian prostitutes to customers who called from homes, apartments and hotels in the greater Seattle area.
Information about the criminal activity first surfaced in April 2004, when the Eastside Narcotics Task Force raided the Apple Spa in Bellevue after determining it was a front for prostitution. Both KANG, JIANG, and ZHU had been involved in the operation of the Apple Spa. ZHU was deported to China as an illegal alien, but quickly returned illegally to the United States. KANG failed to show up for his deportation hearing. In December 2004, FBI agents in Portland learned KANG had resurfaced there and was operating a brothel. In the midst of the investigation in May 2005, KANG returned to Seattle and opened a brothel.
In various conversations with confidential sources, or on wiretapped telephone calls, conspirators discussed how the Asian women had been smuggled into the United States. KANG told one confidential informant that women were being smuggled into the U.S. in shipping containers, paying fees to smugglers of as much as $50,000. The investigation determined that some of the women were smuggled into the U.S. by illegally crossing the border from Canada. The women had to pay off their debts to the smugglers by working in brothels in cities across the country.
The conspirators attempted to avoid law enforcement scrutiny by using code words when talking on the phone. They referred to the women as ethnic foods, makes of cars or as ships. The investigation determined women working in the brothels were citizens of China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Laos.
In asking for prison sentences for ZHU and JIANG, Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg pointed out that defendants continued their criminal activity even after police shut down their spa, which was a front for prostitution. “These sentences are appropriate given both defendants’ long-term and repeated involvement in the international prostitution business. They did not learn from their good fortune in escaping criminal charges back in 2004. Rather, at the first available opportunity they re-entered the business and continued the criminal activity until their federal arrests,” Greenberg wrote in his sentencing memo.
The case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Seattle Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.