Investigators believe a busted high-end brothel network that operated in the Boston and Washington D.C. suburbs was a ‘honeypot’ scheme to entrap U.S. government officials.

The U.S. Department of Justice previously announced the arrest of three individuals in “connection with operating sophisticated high-end brothels in greater Boston and eastern Virginia.”

“Three arrested for allegedly operating sophisticated high-end brothels in MA and VA. Sex buyers allegedly included politicians, executives, doctors, military officers, professors, attorneys, scientists, accountants,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts said.

Investigators believe the alleged operation targeted elected officials, Pentagon officers, and defense contractors.

According to Daily Mail, the alleged mastermind was a 41-year-old South Korean woman.

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However, investigators are reportedly unsure which country was behind the operation.

China, Russia, South Korea, and Israel were named as possible candidates.

Daily Mail reports:

‘Having the Koreans out front could have been a false flag to give China or another country plausible deniability if the plot unraveled,’ a one-time CIA senior operations officer told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.

The brothels were raided in November and prosecutors said they were looking to charge 28 people in Massachusetts alone.

Joshua Levy, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the state said his office will seek ‘accountability for the buyers who fuel the commercial sex industry’.

There was no evident motive to establish two cathouses in the greater Washington area, sources noted emphatically. None of the three defendants live anywhere near the capital and sex workers were flown in from Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

Han Lee, the alleged mastermind, Junmyung Lee, 30, and James Lee, 68 – all South Korean-born U.S. nationals – were charged in November with running the sex ring. The three Lees are not related.

Han and Junmyung both live in the Boston area so the locations of four of the brothels there made sense. James lives in Torrance, a suburb of Los Angeles.

Members of Congress, military officers, and national security contractors who ‘possessed security clearances’ were among the steady customers at the ‘high-end brothels’ run by the ring, prosecutors say.

The ring’s clients, who paid rates of up to $600 an hour, included corporate executives, professors, lawyers, and scientists.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts announced in November:

The following defendants have been charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity:

  • Han Lee, a/k/a “Hana,” 41, of Cambridge, Mass.;
  • James Lee, 68, of Torrance, Calif.; and
  • Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Mass.

Han Lee and Junmyung Lee were arrested this morning and will appear in federal court in Boston later today. James Lee was arrested in the Central District of California and will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.

According to the charging documents, from at least July 2020, the defendants operated an interstate prostitution network with multiple brothels in Cambridge and Watertown, Mass., as well as in Fairfax and Tysons, Va.

It is alleged that the defendants collectively established the infrastructure for brothels in multiple states which they used to persuade, induce and entice women – primarily Asian women – to travel to Massachusetts and Virginia to engage in prostitution.

Specifically, the defendants allegedly rented high-end apartment complexes as brothel locations, which they furnished and regularly maintained. The monthly rent for the brothel locations were as high as $3,664. It is further alleged that the defendants coordinated the women’s airline travel and transportation and permitted women to stay overnight in the brothel locations so they did not have to find lodging elsewhere, therefore enticing women to participate in their prostitution network.

The defendants allegedly advertised their prostitution network primarily on two websites – bostontopten10. com and browneyesgirlsva. blog – which offered appointments with women in either greater Boston or eastern Virginia, respectively. Both websites purported to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography at upscale studios as a front for prostitution offered through appointments with women listed on their websites. The websites listed the height, weight and bust size of women available for appointments and depicted nude and/or semi-nude photographs of each. The women listed as available on the websites updated frequently, with updates to include “coming soon” or “open” to reflect an impending arrival of new women arriving in the area.

Each website allegedly described a verification process that interested sex buyers undertook to be eligible for appointment bookings– including requiring clients complete a form providing their full names, email address, phone number, employer and reference if they had one.

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It is further alleged that the defendants maintained local brothel phone numbers which they used to communicate with verified customers and schedule appointments via text message. In these text message exchanges, the defendants allegedly sent customers a “menu” of available options at the brothel, including the women and sexual services available and the hourly rate. Additionally, the defendants allegedly texted customers directions to the brothel’s location – a high-end apartments – where they engaged in commercial sex with the women.

According to the charging documents, the defendants charged sex buyers a premium price for appointments with the women advertised on their websites, which ranged from approximately $350 to upwards of $600 per hour depending on the services and were paid in cash. The defendants allegedly concealed the proceeds of the prostitution network through depositing hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash proceeds into their personal bank accounts and peer-to-peer transfers. Additionally, it is alleged that the defendants regularly used hundreds of thousands of dollars of the cash proceeds from the prostitution business to purchase money orders (in values under an amount that would trigger reporting and identification requirements) to conceal the source of the funds. These money orders were then used to pay for rent and utilities at brothel locations in Massachusetts and Virginia.

Over the course of the investigation, a wide array of buyers were identified, including, but not limited to, politicians, high tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors that possess security clearances, professors, lawyers, scientists and accountants.

“Investigators suspect prostitution ring may have been part of Chinese espionage plot targeting high-tech government contracting centers like Cambridge and Tysons Corner,” reporter Paul Sperry previously said.

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