A Federal Way man is among six people federally indicted for renting apartments across the state to be used as brothels for women in the country illegally, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Edward Flanigan, 57, is accused of renting apartments in Washington and Arizona that were used for prostitution. He and his co-defendants face various charges of conspiracy to transport individuals for prostitution, conspiracy to use a communications facility to promote prostitution and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
“These defendants exploited vulnerable women immigrants to enrich themselves,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement.
Prosecutors say the group recruited women who overstayed their visas or wanted to come overseas to work off their debts. The group is accused of advertising the women on Backpage.com for massaging services and lining up appointments for them.
Many of the victims owed the leader of the scheme – Unruean Aboulafia, 34 – up to $60,000 for her help finding them jobs in the U.S, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Most of the women were recruited in Thailand and came to the U.S. knowing they would be sex workers to pay off their debt,” the agency said in a news release.