SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Four people were arrested and more than a dozen women who were held as sex slaves were rescued after authorities broke up a complex prostitution ring in San Mateo and Sacramento counties Thursday.
“This is modern day slavery, this kind of thing should not be allowed and we certainly intend to vigorously pursue it,” Al Serrato of the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office told KPIX 5 on Friday.
The California Department of Justice, the FBI and local authorities raided four houses in Sacramento County along with an apartment unit across from the South San Francisco BART station on McLellan Drive. Large boxes of condoms were found in the trash near the apartment.
Agents rescued at least 15 women who were being held captive. According to the Department of Justice, 43-year-old Xiu Juan Bai, 58-year-old Ken Wong and 55-year-old Yoon Chin were arrested on suspicion of pimping and pandering. A mug shot of a fourth person was not released, because authorities want to place the suspect in a witness lineup.
Authorities said the women were kept on a regular schedule between brothels.
“They’ll rotate them out about every 10 days and either send them out of state or send them to a different location,” said Michelle Gregory of the Department of Justice.
According to the Department of Justice, the arrests were the culmination of a five-month investigation of the prostitution ring.
“Sex trafficking rings like the one we dismantled yesterday destroy the lives of young women and degrade the social fabric of our communities,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement released Friday. “I am committed to using all of the law enforcement tools at my disposal to bring to justice those who profit from the cruel and depraved business of sex trafficking.”
San Mateo County authorities urged people to pay attention and report suspicious activity. When asked what to look out for, Serrato said, “Men coming in and out of a place. Women who perhaps appear to be from foreign countries that don’t seem to be free to move around or never coming out of the house. Things that might just strike them at a gut level as not quite right.”
Agents said the brothel in South San Francisco had about three women working out of the two bedroom apartment unit.
Neighbors told KPIX 5 that men were seen coming and going from the apartment at late hours. The men would arrive at the apartment, sometimes two at a time, and leave after 20 minutes.
According to authorities, the johns were referred to the brothels by massage parlors. The victims are all women of Asian descent and brought to California from as far away as Boston and New York. It is not known how the women were brought into the United States.
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