A Korean female international student based in Los Angeles was recently arrested in a prostitution ring spanning three countries, the Korea Daily Los Angeles reported.
The 25-year-old student was one of 25 madams, or sex brokers arrested for arranging prostitution tours for Korean men in Los Angeles.
Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s international crime unit took into custody the international student, identified as Ms. Hong, in Los Angeles, as well as a Ms. Jeong, 35, in Hong Kong, and charged them with sex trafficking.
Twenty-three prostitutes were also booked but not detained. Of the 23 prostitutes, 19 were based in Los Angeles. Police are targeting an additional 118 suspected sex workers, the majority of whom are based in Los Angeles.
According to police, Ms. Hong rented three to four condos on the outskirts of L.A. to be used as brothels. She took pictures of the prostituted women and posted them on a website for “in call” services.
Ms. Hong reportedly charged customers $250 to $300 per session and pocketed $100. From late 2009 to September 2011, she amassed approximately $350,000 although police believe the sum may actually be higher.
“She forced prostitutes to accept an average of five to six customers per day,” said investigating officer Song Kyoung-ho. “[Ms. Hong’s] income was more than $10,000 a day.”
Ms. Hong, who first began working as a madam at the age of 21, also reportedly forced the women to undergo plastic surgery.
Police said Ms. Hong enrolled at a college in Santa Monica but never attended.
“After seeing a prostitution business card in town, she decided to become a madam to make easy money,” Song said.
The arrest came after a long two-year investigation, which began after a prostitute tried to use a forged visa in 2010. Authorities followed the trail to an illegal photo shop that specialized in prostitute photos. From there they were led to sex brokers working in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong.