Six Arrested in Bust of Western Washington Prostitution Ring

The operation was allegedly making hundreds of thousands of dollars by prostituting Asian sex workers.

Law enforcement officers arrested six people last week for running a prostitution ring that operated out of hotels or apartments in Kent, Bellevue, Renton, Tukwila, Federal Way, Seattle, and several other cities.

Search warrants were served at more than 30 locations as part of an investigation into an organized crime ring involved with prostitution, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office media release. All face charges of conspiracy to use a communication facility to promote prostitution

Four of the six people arrested are from Seattle, one is from Renton, and one from New York.

“These defendants ran an organized prostitution ring with tentacles into many of our cities and towns,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The search warrants executed today (Thursday) are part of our ongoing investigation. We are committed to working closely with our state and local partners to ensure we identify and hold all those responsible to account, including anyone involved in human trafficking or exploitation crimes.”

The defendants rented apartments and hotels for prostitution, advertised on backpage.com, and other websites and cycled sex workers through locations across the West.

“Partnership is critical in dismantling organized crime syndicates like this one because they span multiple jurisdictions,” said special agent in charge Jay S. Tabb, Jr. of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office. “Our goal is to disrupt networks, not just arrest select individuals or stem criminal activity in one area, only to watch it emerge in another. By working jointly across Washington, local, state and federal law enforcement partners can eliminate the threat that organized crime groups pose to our residents.”

According to the complaint, federal and local law enforcement partners worked jointly to investigate a criminal ring making hundreds of thousands of dollars through the prostitution of Asian sex workers. In partnership with the FBI, the King County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila identified numerous brothel locations through their analysis of backpage.com, cellphone and other business records.

The joint team of local and federal investigators then conducted surveillance of the ring’s activities. Law enforcement determined that multiple locations were linked to the organization via ads placed with websites. The investigation revealed that the same internet protocol (IP) addresses were used for placing many of the ads, and phone numbers associated with the ads were linked as well–in some instances to call centers in New York and Washington, D.C.

In other cases, the law enforcement agencies followed up on citizen complaints about apartments being operated as prostitution locations and confirmed that the organization was in fact conducting prostitution in those locations.

The investigation revealed that the apparent leader of the operation spent approximately $100,000 to increase the traffic to her ads on the backpage.com site. Other defendants played different roles – renting apartments, transporting sex workers to various locations, purchasing supplies, collecting money from the sex workers and placing ads.

Prostitution activities associated with the ring occurred in apartments or hotels located in Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup, Renton, Tukwila, Seattle and Federal Way. Other locations where the ring operated include Eastern Washington cities such as Richland, Kennewick, Wenatchee and Spokane. The sex workers were frequently moved throughout the area.

Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This story originally appeared in the Kent Reporter.

More in News & Comment

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

You’ve been hacked! Data breaches in Washington on the rise

But fewer people had personal information compromised from cyberattacks in 2019 compared to 2018.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

Stolen rescue dog, lost peacock reunited with owners

Federal Way police share emotional reunions after tracking down stolen dog in abandoned home, finding lost peacock.

A young girl holds up a ‘Don’t Pollute I Live Here’ sign in the crowd during the Youth Climate Strike at Cal Anderson Park on Friday, March 15, 2019 in Seattle, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
King County builds blueprint for health, climate change

The plan will inform how the Board of Health addresses climate change-related health issues.

File photo of a pothole
King County approves roads, bridges funding

The capital projects funding is significantly less than previous years.

Safe drug consumption sites have been recommended by the King County Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Pictured is a safe consumption site in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
What’s been happening with safe injection sites?

There hasn’t been much coverage this year compared to the last couple years.

Most Read