By Holmes Lybrand, CNN
(CNN) – Three individuals have been arrested on charges of operating a “high-end brothel network” in Massachusetts and Virginia with a clientele that included elected officials, military officers and government contractors with security clearances, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
“Pick a profession,” Joshua Levy, acting US attorney for Massachusetts, said of the sprawling client list during a press conference in Boston. “They’re probably represented in this case.”
Levy did not identify any of the brothel’s clients and noted that multiple search warrants are being executed in the case in Massachusetts, California and Virginia.
Han Lee, 41, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; James Lee, 68, of Torrance, California; and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Massachusetts have been charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. They are expected to appear in federal court in Boston Wednesday or at a later date.
The three individuals, Levy said, transported women and advertised them online for pre-approved clients to choose from through several websites and ran the brothels out of apartments they rented.
“This case goes back to the summer of 2022 when investigators identified several buyers through surveillance phone records and interviews,” Levy said. “The buyers who made up this ring hail from an array of professions.”
He added: “They are doctors, they are lawyers, they are accountants, they are elected officials, they are executives of high tech companies and pharmaceutical companies, they are military officers, government contractors, professors, scientists. They are the men who fuel this commercial sex ring.”
“There are potentially hundreds of individuals who took these services as commercial sex buyers,” Levy said, noting the investigation is still in its early stages.
“Alleged prospective sex buyers in this scheme first had to respond to a survey and provide information online, including their driver’s license photos, their employer information, credit card information, and they often paid a monthly fee to be part of this.”
The prostitution network primarily used two websites that advertised appointments with Asian women, according to an affidavit filed in court from a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.
The agent said about 20 sex buyers were interviewed in connection with the multiyear investigation. One customer described getting a text of available options at a brothel, including the women available, the sexual services and the hourly rate.
The agent said he believes the brothels are “high-end” because of the high cost of the rental units used and the “scope of the professional disciplines of the sex buyers.”
Customers are not named in the affidavit, according to the agent, because the investigation into their involvement is “active and ongoing.”
CNN has reached out to attorneys for Junmyung Lee and Han Lee. No lawyer is listed for James Lee on the court docket.