Federal prosecutors in Oregon charged six people with crimes related to an international sex trafficking ring that allegedly exploited women from Asian countries to work in brothels around the U.S., including in Beaverton, Tigard and Portland.
In a video released by the U.S. Attorney's Office, johns can be seen entering the alleged brothel in Beaverton. Another video shows the website, www.supermatchescort.com, which FBI officials seized during the investigation of the prostitution ring.
Six people face federal charges in the sting: Zongtao Chen, also known as Mark Chen, 46, of Toronto, Canada; Weixuan Zhou, also known as Marco Zhou, 37, of Guangzhou, China; Yan Wang also known as Sarah Wang, 33, of Temecula, California; Chaodan Wang, 32, of Beaverton, Oregon; Ting Fu, 35, of Beaverton, Oregon; and Hui Ling Sun, 40 of Portland.
The indictment says Mark Chen ran the trafficking ring, recruiting vulnerable women from China to move to the U.S., only to force them to work in brothels.
Through the website, the traffickers would allegedly instruct customers to contact local "bosses" in American cities via text, email or encrypted messages through WeChat. The men would be instructed to show up at a hotel or apartment complex where women were forced to perform sex acts for money.
Chen's operation allegedly had brothels in Beaverton, Tigard and Portland. Investigators logged more than 30,000 messages related to the trafficking operation.
"Protecting vulnerable foreign nationals from criminal traffickers seeking to exploit them for profit is a critically important law enforcement mission," says Billy Williams, U.S. Attorney General for the District of Oregon. "Trafficking adults for sex can at times be overlooked by our society because some believe the adult victims have a choice. This notion is false. These victims are powerless and often thousands of miles away from their home, native language and personal connections who might help them escape."
Federal officials say they worked with nonprofits to connect the victims to social services, legal representation and medical care.
"Vulnerable women looking for a new life in the U.S. instead find traffickers who cash in on their cultural isolation by profiting from the sale of sex services," says Renn Cannon, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "In many cases, these women lack the language skills and understanding of American civil rights to ask for help or assistance from law enforcement."
Several Oregon law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation, including the Portland Police Bureau, Beaverton Police Department, Tigard Police Department and Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.