SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal grand jury in San Francisco has indicted ten people who allegedly ran a network of 40 brothels throughout the Bay Area employing women trafficked primarily from Asian countries, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.
Federal prosecutors said the defendants operated 30 brothels in cities including Pinole, San Mateo, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Belmont, Fremont, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Foster City, San Bruno, Colma and South San Francisco from at least August 2002 through July 2014.
Members of the enterprise also sent a number of outgoing wire transfers to Asian countries from at least March 4, 2004 to Oct. 3, 2013 to other members of the group and to known prostitutes. There were at least 23 such international wire transfers totaling $179,218 to Leow Wan Ru Veron, 54, an alleged recruiter of prostitutes in Singapore, and 20 totaling $109,300 to Chonthicha Jaemratanasophin, 48, an alleged prostitute living in Thailand.
The charges in the indictment include conspiring to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, use of a facility in interstate and foreign commerce to promote prostitution, laundering of monetary instruments, importation of aliens for an immoral purpose and transportation in interstate and foreign commerce for prostitution.
Prosecutors said seven of those named in the indictment were arrested today and made their initial appearance in court, including Allen Fong, 58, of San Mateo; Robert Chun, 54, of San Francisco; Jie Mu, 43, of San Francisco; Laurence Shu Kwan Lee, 36, of San Francisco; Kevin Hartig, 58, of Daly City; Angelina Chuong, 39, of San Francisco and Jaemratanasophin.
Jaemratanasophin was detained, while the others were released on bonds ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.
Fong is scheduled to appear again on Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, while the other defendants are scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 29.
The indictment also names Leow Wan Ru Veron, Ya Huai Hung, 53, of Taiwan and Waylen Fong, 70, formerly of San Mateo.