NEW YORK—The Manhattan prosecutor’s office announced early Thursday the arrest of members of a criminal ring that was offering prostitutes and cocaine to high-end clientele heading to the New York area for the Super Bowl.
The arrests are the result of a yearlong undercover investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD.
Schneiderman said that the leader of the ring, Hyun Ok Yoon, 41, also known as “Beige” was a major player in the prostitution and illegal drug industry.
“This is someone who we’ve heard of from other criminals, really sort of admiring the scope of her enterprise,” Schneiderman said.
Hyun Ok Yoon was arrested early Thursday morning at her home on Long Island. Other suspects were arrested late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in Manhattan, some near Sixth Avenue, a spokesman at Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said.
Police arrested a total of 18 members of the ring on various charges including narcotic sales, promotion of prostitution, and money laundering.
The ring reportedly promoted its prostitution services with advertisements on public access television, on the Internet, and via text messages. Intercepted conversations found they not only offered prostitution services to clients but that the prostitutes would bring cocaine to offer to the clients who made a special order. They referred to this service as a “party pack.”
Intercepted conversations also show that the ring used several code names for cocaine, such as “jewelry,” “party,” and “soojaebi,” a Korean noodle and vegetable soup.
Investigators found the ring aggressively pushed its marketing efforts to out-of-town clientele coming for Super Bowl as recently as last week.
“Really a huge increase in their text messages to people coming in from out of town, saying, ‘We’ve updated our girls, new and sexy and beautiful girls are in town waiting for you,’” Schneiderman said.
While 18 members of the ring were arrested, an undisclosed number of women who were working as prostitutes but not part of the management of the ring have been taken to Sanctuary for Families, an organization that helps sex-trafficking victims.
Lori Cohen, director of Sanctuary for Families said, “Instead of being branded as criminals, the women were offered help and treated with respect and compassion. Sex trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry fueled by the demand by commercial sex.”
“These criminals utilized apartments in residential buildings as a way of carrying out their illicit activities,” said Police Commissioner William Bratton, “They disregarded the safety and well-being of every member in those communities by providing a ‘one-stop shopping’ drug and prostitution ring.”