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Sex trafficking: Korean nightclub busted in Federal Way
From staff reports:
Eight people have been indicted for allegedly operating an interstate prostitution ring at a Korean nightclub in Federal Way.
Organizers of the scheme sought Korean females to work as "bar girls" at The Blue Moon, 31140 Pacific Highway S. (near S. 312th St.), where the women entertained male clients and set up meetings for paid sex, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Many of the women were recruited overseas and worked as “hostesses” at the club to repay their travel and living expenses.
Charges for the defendants include conspiracy to commit money laundering, visa fraud, harboring illegal aliens, bribery and transportation in furtherance of prostitution.
Six of the defendants were taken into custody Thursday and appeared in federal court that afternoon. They are being held without bond, and their detention hearings are slated for this month.
Blue Moon owner Chang Young Kim of Milton also faces five criminal counts involving $15,000 in bribes he allegedly paid an undercover officer in the case. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Kim allegedly wanted advance notice of law enforcement inspections at the nightclub and cooperation from immigration authorities to allow the undocumented Korean women to enter the country.
Other defendants arrested Thursday:
• Yeun Jeong Mun, 35, of Milton, who is Kim’s wife, and allegedly served as a former madam at The Blue Moon.
• Miyoung Roberts, 40, of Federal Way, who allegedly serves as the current madam at The Blue Moon.
• Jung San So, 55, of Seattle, current manager of The Blue Moon.
• Raymond Jung, 51, of Federal Way, who leased apartments where hostesses were allegedly housed.
• Kwang Frank Lee, 57, of Federal Way, who allegedly provided money to finance a fraudulent marriage tied to the scheme.
The charges are the result of a two-year multi-agency probe spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The investigation began in November 2009, after HSI received a lead from Seattle police detectives who were investigating an unrelated embezzlement scheme.
“The organizers of this criminal scheme exploited vulnerable young women to satisfy their greed,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a news release. “They also sought to protect their business by offering bribes to law enforcement.”
Two suspects are still being sought:
• Sung Hee Han, 40, of Federal Way, who allegedly serves as an assistant madam at The Blue Moon.
• Hee Jae Cho, 40, of Federal Way, former manager of the nightclub, who also allegedly provided transportation for the hostesses.
Investigators believe Cho may be in the Los Angeles area. Anyone with information can call (866 )DHS-2ICE.