Federal Law Enforcement Partners Commemorate National Human Trafficking Awareness Day--January 11, 2023
PORTLAND, Ore.—A Canadian man was extradited to the United States and arraigned in federal court today for his leadership role in an international sex trafficking organization operating illegal Asian brothels in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Zongtao Chen aka Mark Chen, 49, of Toronto, Canada made his first appearance in federal court today in the District of Oregon and was arraigned by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta on charges of conspiring to use and using interstate facilities to promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate a racketeering enterprise. Chen was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
According to court documents, Chen led a criminal enterprise that recruited women, primarily from China, to travel to the United States and elsewhere to engage in prostitution and other sex trafficking activities. In cities where the organization operated, a “boss” would oversee and manage a local brothel in a hotel or apartment complex. Customers seeking to engage in acts of illegal prostitution would call a number listed on www.supermatchescort.com or related websites, or send a text, email, or encrypted internet message. The organization employed dispatchers who would receive incoming requests for “dates” from potential customers. The dispatchers would coordinate and schedule dates with women working in the various brothels.
Dispatchers used a computer program to schedule and track the prostitution dates. When seized by law enforcement, this computer program contained a customer database with more than 30,000 phone numbers and records from previous dates. In Oregon, Chen promoted illegal prostitution activities brothels in Portland, Tigard and Beaverton.
On November 15, 2018, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a two-count indictment charging Chen and four co-conspirators—Weixuan Zhou aka Marco Zhou, 40, of Guangzhou, China; Yan Wang aka Sarah Wang, 36, of Temecula, California; and Chaodan Wang, 35, and Ting Fu, 38, both of Beaverton—with conspiring to use and using interstate facilities to promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate a racketeering enterprise.
On January 15, 2019, the FBI partnered with local law enforcement agencies in more than a dozen cities across the United States to conduct sting operations targeting Chen’s organization along with other Asian sex trafficking networks. As part of the coordinated law enforcement operation, the FBI seized www.supermatchescort.com and approximately 500 other associated domains, including 25 location-specific sub-domains.
At around the same time, Chen was arrested by the Toronto Police Service Human Trafficking Enforcement Team and Fugitive Squad at the request of the United States. On November 2, 2021, Canada’s Minister of Justice approved Chen’s extradition to the United States to face prosecution. This week, the U.S. Marshals Service transported Chen to Portland.
U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Omaha, Nebraska. The Toronto Police Service provided assistance. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Canada to secure the arrest and extradition of Chen to the United States. Participating CETF member organizations include the Portland Police Bureau, Beaverton Police Department, Tigard Police Department and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
Julia Jarrett, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon is prosecuting the case.
The FBI CETF conducts sexual exploitation investigations, many of them undercover, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. CETF is committed to locating and arresting those who prey on children as well as recovering and assisting victims of sex trafficking and child exploitation.
The National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) assisted in the seizure of the websites related to this investigation. The NCFTA, established in 2002, is a nonprofit partnership between private industry, government and academia for the sole purpose of providing a neutral, trusted environment that enables two-way collaboration and cooperation to identify, mitigate and disrupt cybercrime.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.