- Nine members and associates of a Queens-based prostitution enterprise have been charged with racketeering, sex trafficking, Hobbs Act robbery and violent assaults.
- The syndicate, which operated nationwide between April 2019 and September 2021, forced women who were mostly from China to work as prostitutes.
- Members of the criminal enterprise hired goons who disguised themselves as customers and then assaulted and robbed at least 15 women across the U.S.
- The defendants, who subjected their victims to brutal beatings, reportedly believed that they would not be prosecuted since the women engaged in prostitution and are not U.S. citizens.
Warning: This article contains details about sex trafficking and violent assaults.
Federal authorities have recently busted a violent Queens-based nationwide sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise that preyed on undocumented women who were mostly from China.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nine members of the syndicate have all been charged with racketeering, sex trafficking, Hobbs Act robbery and violent assaults. Eight of the defendants were apprehended and arraigned in court on Tuesday.
The seven defendants from Queens are Siyu Chen (also known as “Ban Ban”),”= Rong Rong Xu (also known as “Eleanor”), Jiarun Yan (also known as “Raymond Yan” and “Mike”), Carlos Cury, Zerong Tang, Siyang Chen and Bo Jiang. Meizhen Song and Jilong Yu, who are both from Dallas, have also been charged.
Court documents revealed that the syndicate operated a nationwide prostitution business between April 2019 and September 2021.
The defendants forced undocumented women, who mostly came from China, to engage in prostitution. They reportedly maintained control by requiring their victims, who lacked legal status in the U.S., to submit copies of their identification documents.
For weeks at a time, the recruits were forced to travel from New York to different parts of the U.S., including Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas and Washington. They would then engage in commercial sex in hotels and apartments operated by the syndicate.
Members and associates of the criminal enterprise were also implicated in directing and conducting violent assaults across five states between Jan. 8, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2021.
The defendants, who were accused of violently assaulting the women to prevent them from joining competing organizations, reportedly believed they would not be prosecuted since the victims engaged in prostitution work and are not U.S. citizens.
Prosecutors alleged that the associates instructed individuals to disguise themselves as customers before assaulting and robbing at least 15 women across the U.S.
The hired goons bound the women with zip ties and beat them with blunt objects such as hammers and bats before fleeing with the victims’ belongings. One victim sustained injuries that left her hospitalized for six weeks and in a wheelchair for months.
“As alleged, the defendants targeted vulnerable women for sex trafficking and brutally assaulted the victims to enforce loyalty to the criminal enterprise,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “Human beings are not property, and the victims in this case, regardless of their immigration status, deserve to be free from violence and coerced sexual activity.”
The members reportedly encouraged more violent assaults on the victims if they did not immediately suffer injuries after the first attack.
A phone message recovered by authorities contained this instruction: ”Beat [her] to death tomorrow. If she dares fight back, beat her more viciously. Get some results from the beating. Can’t waste the money.”
In a separate recovered message, another member said, “One person choke her by her throat, the other person strike her four limbs to death. Definitely don’t make a sound. Beat her to the point where she can’t fight back.”
Image: Jacob K