Feds break up roving brothel ring

July 3, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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Asian hookers reportedly brought to Newcastle

Federal prosecutors accused two men last month of operating roving brothels in Newcastle, Renton and Bellevue.

Yin Hoo Yap, of Malaysia, and Kou-Chwung Liu allegedly arranged┬áto fly Asian women into Sea-Tac Airport to work at Yap’s brothel, according to a grand jury indictment.

Yap and Liu were arrested in June. Both are charged with conspiracy to transport individuals in furtherance of prostitution and money laundering. The conspiracy charge carries a five-year prison term. Money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The women were among a series of prostitutes the two men paid to come to the Seattle area to work in the brothel, according to the indictment. The women would work in the brothel for a week or two and then move on, prosecutors said.

Three women working as prostitutes were detained June 9 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a home in Renton. None has been arrested.

One woman was from Malaysia, while the other two were from China and Korea, said Lori Dankers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.

A federal judge on June 11 ordered the women held as material witnesses in the prosecution of Yap and Liu.

On the afternoon of June 9, Immigration agents and the Washington State Patrol raided a house in the 9200 block of Coal Creek Parkway Southeast at the entrance of the Highlands subdivision. Newcastle police also assisted, said Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine. But she said police had no prior calls to the rental house.

According to the indictment, a confidential informant working at the direction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents called one woman known as “Asian Chloe” and arranged to meet a prostitute named Tammy in October 2007 at a Renton house on Northeast 27th Street, about one-tenth of a mile from the Newcastle city limits.

When he arrived, Tammy led him to a room with a mattress and told him to take his clothes off. The informant then gave Tammy “$160 for payment of sexual services,” the indictment said.

Tammy disrobed and began to massage the informant’s shoulders when he received a prearranged call from an agent and told Tammy he had to leave to return to work.

Beginning in 2007 and continuing through May 2008, other women, including “Malaysia Rose, Vietnamese Happy and Korean Susie,” worked at brothels at 134th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue and Coal Creek Parkway in Newcastle before being flown out of town to other locations.

The indictment also alleges that between Valentine’s Day 2007 and Dec. 3, 2007, Yap bought 13,620 condoms from an online business.

Trial is set for Aug. 4 before U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour.

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