LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — The Super Bowl is supposed to bring big money to the New York area, but a big prostitution and narcotics bust in Manhattan and Brooklyn has taken town about a dozen people who law enforcement sources say were trying to profit from the big game illegally.
“It was referred to as a party pack,” said New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman at a news conference regarding the crime ring, that he said specialized in “the prostitution plus drugs combination.”
The group of 18 main operators of the alleged crime ring — 16 men and 2 women, according to investigators — arranged for call girls to show up at clients’ hotel rooms and homes with illegal drugs on them to be used with the paid-for sex.
An 11-month investigation by Attorney General Schneiderman and NYPD Chief of Department Phillip Banks led to other remarkable finds about the group.
“They have ads that are quite graphic, advertising for services on public access cable TV,” Schneiderman said. ”And then they accelerated their outreach through text messaging.”
He displayed a recent text that the ring is accused of sending out. It targeted clients that the ring had been catering to for years, but sought opportunities to connect a newly recruited group of women with prospective johns in town for the Super Bowl. The state’s investigation showed that the crime ring had been very active and profitable.
“We’ve identified in the last year more than $3 million in credit card charges related to this enterprise,” said Schneiderman. ”And keep in mind,” he added, “that most johns pay cash, so that’s a staggering number.”
He said that the ring had set up a group of bogus businesses, including a wig salon, a limo service and a dating service, in order to launder the money it was making in great amounts.
In fact, Schneiderman said, agents had seized a cash counting machine from an East 30th Street building where the accused ringleader, Hyun Ok Yoon, 41, who is nicknamed Beige, kept her business office. She also had a computer and records at her office that investigators said yielded more surprises about her prostitutes.
“The trafficking victims were brought in on a rolling basis,” said Schneiderman. ”They brought in new girls every three months. The point of [the ring's ] texts were to remind people that they brought in new women.”
The women were housed in an apartment building on East 37th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Agents also raided it as well as Hyun Ok Yoon’s office, and an apartment on 6th Avenue, one block east of Super Bowl Boulevard.
Investigators also said that the drug-delivering call girls may have been illegally brought here from Asia as sex slaves. However, in a legal precedent for New York, they were not arrested and charged with prostitution. Instead, they were taken to Sanctuary for Families, a safe haven program for human trafficking victims.