You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrests Of Operators Of Multi-State Prostitution Ring

Operators based in Flushing conspired to transport women to multiple states for prostitution

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York (“HSI”), announced today the arrest of GUI YOU WU, a/k/a “David, a/k/a “Michael,” YOUMEI CHEN, a/k/a “Ah Mei,” a/k/a “You Mei Chen,” GUIXIA WU, and HONG ZHONG, a/k/a “5023,” a/k/a “023,” stemming from a conspiracy to engage in the interstate trafficking of women, primarily Chinese nationals, for the purposes of prostitution.  GUIXIA WU was arrested in Bronxville, New York, and the other three defendants were arrested in Flushing this morning.  They will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison in White Plains federal court.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, these defendants promoted and managed a multi-state prostitution business through an extensive network of operators who worked in different locations to advertise and facilitate prostitution.  These defendants then allegedly raked in millions dollars from their illegal and exploitive activities.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said:  “Prostitution is a serious and harmful offense. And, in some cases prostitution can serve as a gateway for criminals with direct connections to human trafficking, organized crime, and other illegal activities. The migratory nature of these crimes makes it critical for law enforcement entities to work together to tackle this widespread dilemma. We will continue to support our law enforcement partners who play a critical role in combating this type of criminal activity.” 

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “For years these individuals allegedly used women as a commodity, selling them for sex and transporting the women from hotel to motel and state to state.  For those who choose trafficking of people as a profession, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, and you will face the consequences of your actions.”

According to the Indictment[1] unsealed today in federal court:

Between about 2013 and 2017, GUI YOU WU was the manager of a business engaged in the interstate trafficking of women, primarily Chinese nationals, for the purposes of prostitution (the “Prostitution Business”).  As part of the Prostitution Business, GUI YOU WU and others transported women for the purposes of prostitution to and from hotels and motels in multiple states, including New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Missouri, and elsewhere, by means of vehicles and through the purchase of airline tickets. 

The Prostitution Business recruited customers through the placement and purchase of advertisements for escort services on classified websites such as Backpage.com.  CHEN, GUIXIA WU, and ZHONG assisted GUI YOU WU in the promotion and management of the Prostitution Business through, among other things, payment for hotels and other business expenses, placement of advertisements, coordination of travel, communication with women working as prostitutes, and the movement and receipt of proceeds from the Prostitution Business. 

GUI YOU WU also employed several individuals, including ZHONG, as telephone operators for the Prostitution Business (the “Operators”).  The Operators placed advertisements to recruit customers for the Prostitution Business and used cellphones to coordinate between the customers and the prostitutes.

*                *                *

GUI YOU WU, 46, of Flushing, CHEN, 51, of Flushing, GUIXIA WU, 49, of Bronxville, and ZHONG, 37, of Flushing, are each charged with one count of conspiring to violate the Mann Act and the Travel Act by conspiring to transport an individual or individuals in interstate commerce with the intent that such persons engage in prostitution, or any sexual activity for which a person can be charged with a criminal offense, and by traveling in interstate commerce or causing someone else to travel in interstate commerce or using or causing to be used the mail and facilities in interstate and foreign commerce, with the intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on, and facilitate unlawful prostitution and promotion of prostitution, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.  GUI YOU WU is also charged with violating the Mann Act by knowingly transporting an individual in interstate commerce with the intent that the individual engage in prostitution and sexual activity on or about February 25, 2016, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The statutory maximum potential penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Any individuals who believe they have information that may be relevant to the investigation should contact the FBI at 212-384-1000 or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI and HSI and thanked the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation.  He added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica Feinstein, Allison Nichols, and Jamie Bagliebter are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

Press Release Number: 
18-091
Updated March 27, 2018