Prostitution and drug ring busted in New York four days before Super Bowl

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This year's big game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey -- just across the border from Manhattan. On Thursday, four days before the game, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced charges against eighteen people for running "a high-end prostitution and drug-trafficking ring."

New York authorities say the ring sold "party packs" of cocaine and prostitutes and was gearing up for the Super Bowl by increasing its activity and marketing. A press release from Schneiderman's office notes that the ring, which also advertised via commercials on public access TV, sent a text message to frequent customers last week noting that "new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u."

From the press release (which is on view in its entirety below): "The arrests were made (on Thursday) in hopes of learning additional information about johns ordering 'party packs' for Super Bowl weekend. This ring's business model of selling package deals, and its significant presence advertising on the Internet and public access television, left it well-positioned to cater to an out-of-town clientele."

Asked about evidence that suggests the ring was targeting football fans, a spokesman for Schneiderman noted that one of the ring's brothels was located just a block from "Super Bowl Boulevard" in midtown Manhattan, an area set up by the NFL for football fans. He also said prostitution-related arrests in January are up 30 percent from last year.

The eleven-month investigation was nicknamed "Operation Out of Bounds." In all, two men and sixteen women were arrested and charged with conspiracy, narcotics sales, promoting prostitution, money laundering and other charges. The charging documents note that some of the women arrested played "managerial roles," supplying the narcotics to the prostitutes, who then sold them to the johns. The apparent leader was a woman named Hyun Ok Yoonung, known as "Beige." Schneiderman noted in a press conference that law enforcement is working to identify victims of human trafficking among the prostitutes who were involved in the ring and offer them sanctuary.

It was common practice for the ring to send one prostitute to supply a john with drugs and then, when he was "impaired," to "flood the room" with additional high-end prostitutes and charge the john's credit card for all of them, the press release notes. The ring's proceeds were allegedly laundered through a variety of "front" businesses, including a wig wholesaler, a beauty supply wholesaler and a limousine service. Law enforcement estimates that the ring generated "millions of dollars in illegal proceeds."

Continue to see the press release and watch a video of a news conference featuring the New York attorney general.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar