A federal grand jury has indicted eight people suspected of operating an interstate prostitution ring from a Korean nightclub in Federal Way.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictment this morning in a press release. The indictment is the result of a two-year, multi-agency investigation headed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.
According to the release, Korean woman were recruited overseas and worked as “hostesses” at The Blue Moon. The women were expected to entertain men and set up subsequent meetings for paid sex to repay their travel and living expenses.
The grand jury issued a 12-count indictment Wednesday, charging the owner and seven others with several crimes, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, visa fraud, harboring illegal aliens, bribery and transportation in furtherance of prostitution.
“The organizers of this criminal scheme exploited vulnerable young women to satisfy their greed,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in the press release. “They also sought to protect their business by offering bribes to law enforcement.”
Agents arrested six of the accused Thursday morning, including the club’s owner, Chang Young Kim, a 58-year-old Milton resident; and his wife, 35-year-old Yeun Jeong Mun. Investigators suspect Mun worked as a former madam at the club.
Also arrested Thursday were:
* Miyoung Roberts, 40, of Federal Way. She’s accused of being the current madam at the club.
*Jung San So, 55, of Seattle. So is suspected of being the current club manager.
* Raymond Jung, 51, of Federal Way. Jung is accused of leasing apartments where the women were housed.
*Kwang Frank Lee, 57, of Federal Way. He’s accused of providing money to finance a bogus marriage tied to the scheme.
During court appearances Thursday afternoon, the six defendants were ordered held without bond pending detention hearings.
Two other defendants are still being sought – Sung Hee Han, a 40-year-old Federal Way woman, and Hee Jae Cho, also 40 and of Federal Way. Han is suspected of being an assistant madam at The Blue Moon and Cho is a former manager, according to the press release. Investigators suspect Cho is in the Los Angeles area.
Agents began their investigation into the club in November 2009. Seattle police detectives had been investigating an unrelated embezzlement scheme when they received information on the sex trafficking ring and passed it along to ICE agents.
In addition to other charges, prosecutors suspect Kim, the club’s owner, tried to bribe an undercover officer in the case. Kim offered $15,000 in exchange for a heads up of law enforcement inspections and cooperation from immigration authorities to allow undocumented Korean women to come to the United States.
Kim has been charged with five crimes related to the bribe accusations.
Agents served search warrants on the Blue Moon and several homes Thursday.
The investigation continues.