Four arrested in Emeryville prostitution sting
EMERYVILLE -- Four suspects who thought they had successfully bribed an Emeryville police captain to look the other way have been charged for running a sex-trafficking ring at a spa where hundreds of Asian women worked as prostitutes, officials said.
Women in their 20s to 40s from China, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Korea would enter the United States through New York and Los Angeles. The women would work as prostitutes at a circuit of spas around the U.S. that including Acucare, which was considered a main hub, authorities said.
Police said customers heard about Acucare through word-of-mouth. They would pay Kuang $60 at the door to view women and select one.
Between four and seven women worked at the spa and were rotated every two or three weeks so there would be fresh faces, Emeryville police said.
A few weeks after the probe began, authorities said Loi contacted Emeryville police Capt. Dante Diotalevi, commander of the investigation unit and offered him $2,000 a month to keep police from busting the operation. Diotalevi played along, documenting a total $24,000 in transactions with audio and video recordings.
Emeryville police conducted thousands of hours of investigation and surveillance assisting the other two agencies.
On June 5, the three agencies along with the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office served search warrants at the spa and Lee's San Francisco home and another home linked to Lee in Mariposa.
In addition to evidence corroborating the prostitution operation, authorities recovered $69,000 in cash, guns and numerous marijuana plants from the sites. Authorities believe Lee was selling the marijuana.
Police said that shortly after the search warrants were served in June, the new owners of the property housing the spa had the building demolished. It is currently a pit with the foundation for a new apartment building.
Harris said in the news release: "Human trafficking is one of the world's most profitable criminal enterprises, and it is having a devastating impacting right here in our own backyard. Each year, thousands of women and children of all ages and backgrounds are forced into labor and prostitution. I thank our local, state and federal partners for fighting this serious threat and bringing these perpetrators to justice."