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FW man accused of renting apartments for prostitutes

Mirror staff reports:

A Federal Way man is among six people indicted in an interstate prostitution conspiracy.

The suspects are accused of advertising on Backpage.com for erotic services in Washington, Arizona, Illinois and Virginia. The charges date back to April 2009.

According to charging documents, law enforcement conducted several investigations by responding to ads for "escort/body rubs."

On at least seven occasions, an undercover officer arranged a meeting with Asian prostitutes and was directed to Bellevue apartments. Women with names like "Yumi" and "Jazzy" offered sex services for a fee, and the undercover officer declined every time, according to charging papers.

Several of the women had traveled from Thailand to the U.S. and worked as prostitutes to pay off their debts to the ringleader. The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that some women owed debts as high as $60,000.

The suspects, as reported by U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan:

• Unruean Aboulafia, 34, of Bellevue is the leader of the scheme.  A Thai national, she was in the U.S. illegally. She allegedly recruited the women from Thailand, and advertised their services on backpage.com. The women paid her their smuggling debt.

• Thanyathorn Mohr, 35, of Bellevue is a Thai national who was legally in the U.S. She allegedly was the “operator” for the women, responding to the calls generated by the backpage.com ads, scheduling appointments and directing clients to the apartments.

• Jeff Chu, 48, a U.S. citizen living in Bellevue, allegedly leased various apartments for the group in Bellevue and in Illinois, in both his name and the name of his ex-wife. He collected some of the proceeds for the conspiracy and laundered the money through various bank accounts.

• Xinping Zhang, 39, a Chinese national legally in the U.S. and Chu’s ex-wife. She allegedly rented various apartments for the conspirators, collected money and laundered funds.

• Federal Way resident Edward Flanigan, 57, is accused of renting apartments for prostitution in Bellevue and in Arizona. Charging documents list two units in the Avalon Bellevue Apartments, 11000 NE 10th St.

Defendants will appear in U.S. District Court. If convicted, the alleged conspirators face up to five years in prison for prostitution, and up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

 

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