Three Defendants Indicted On Sex Trafficking Charges
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
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BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Feng Yang Chen, 41, LiangLiang Guo, 31, and Cheng Qi Li, 28, all of Flushing, NY, with conspiracy to violate the Mann Act and the Travel Act related to the operation of an interstate prostitution business. Chen was also charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Chen faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life. Guo and Li face a maximum of five years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth R. Moellering, who is handling the case, stated according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, between March, 2011 and March, 2016, the defendants used the website Backpage.com to promote a multi-state prostitution organization. They posted advertisements on Backpage.com, which led to encounters with prostitutes in multiple states including New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. Chen and Li operated a call center in Flushing, Queens that scheduled meetings between prostitutes and their clients. Guo drove the victims to various hotels and collected the proceeds from the commercial sex activities. Some of the commercial sex acts took place in Tonawanda, NY and Henrietta, NY.
The indictment states that throughout the conspiracy, the defendants victimized 12 individuals who traveled state to state to engage in prostitution in various hotels. The indictment is seeking the forfeiture of $476,354.74 in proceeds from the illegal prostitution activities; two properties located in Flushing, NY; a 2012 Porsche Cayenne; as well as multiple cellular telephones, computers, and iPads utilized during the prostitution conspiracy.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy stated, “While the sexual exploitation of another is a criminal act that victimizes the person exploited, a criminal enterprise such as this, which provides profits to those who orchestrate such exploitation, is particularly pernicious.”
“The defendant allegedly callously abused and exploited vulnerable women for her own financial gain,” said ICE-HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero. “The charges announced today will hopefully lay the foundation to restore the dignity of those victimized by this alleged criminal enterprise.”
The indictment is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of James C. Spero; the Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jerome C. Uschold III; the New York Police Department, under the direction of Chief James P. O’Neill; the South Portland, Maine Police Department, under the direction of Chief Edward Googins; and the Fairview Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jason C. Loper.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.