News and Press Releases

California and Washington Residents Allegedly Conspired to Transport Sex Workers From Cities Around the U.S.

November 18, 2008

Law enforcement officers in Seattle and King County served search warrants and made arrests this morning in a long term investigation of a Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Furtherance of Prostitution, and Money Laundering Conspiracy. A grand jury indictment returned earlier this month alleges that DONALD KERRY FREY, 36 years old, of South Lake Tahoe, California, and NGUYEN TRAN NGUYEN, a/k/a Stephanie, a/k/a Stacey, 26 years old, of Renton, Washington, conspired to operate brothels disguised as tanning salons and spas. FREY, NGUYEN, and another charged co-conspirator allegedly had various roles in the conspiracy which involved booking air travel and arranging for the transportation of sex workers from other states to work in the businesses. The three businesses were: The Aloha Tanning Resort (now closed), at 2828 Sunset Lane NE in Renton, Washington; The Avalon Spa, at 9530 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle, Washington; and the Malibu Tanning Spa at 13985 Interurban Ave. South in Tukwila, Washington.

According to the indictment, FREY operated the businesses using straw companies with the names Crown Venture Capitol, Inc., and Crown Venture Management, Ltd. During 2007 and 2008, on multiple occasions, women working at the businesses offered to provide sex acts to undercover officers and informants in exchange for cash. Every couple of weeks FREY would fly to Seattle from California or Nevada to collect thousands of dollars in cash from NGUYEN TRAN NGUYEN and others employed as managers at the spa businesses. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, NGUYEN TRAN NGUYEN booked more than 70 flights for women traveling from other states to work in the brothels.

In today’s operation search warrants were served at the businesses, as well as residences in Kent and Renton, and at a boat, the Island Girl, moored at the Westlake Marina on Lake Union. Those arrested on federal charges will appear in U.S. District Court, 12th floor, at 2:30 today.

“The organizers of this illegal network view people as nothing more than currency,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate crimes like these and ensure that the actions of those who choose to exploit others for profit do not go unchecked or unpunished.”

Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Furtherance of Prostitution is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Money Laundering Conspiracy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Prosecutors are also moving to forfeit to the government all cash and valuables obtained by the defendants acquired from their illegal gains, and used to facilitate their crimes.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The case is being investigated by the Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ye-Ting Woo who heads the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Human Trafficking.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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