Malaysian Jailed In The US For Running A Brothel And Money Laundering Scheme
Three people, including a Malaysian, have been sentenced to jail in the US for operating a brothel that lured women to work as prostitutes
A report by the Associated Press (AP) states that Chow Chan Kong from Malaysia, and two Chinese nationals, Gong Biyun and Huang Xiaohong, were convicted of running a brothel and sentenced to jail on Friday.
The trio pleaded guilty in July 2017 to conspiring to operate an interstate prostitution ring based in Doraville, Georgia, involving money laundering.
Chow, also known as Blake Wong, was sentenced to one year and nine months in jail while Gong got one year and three months. Huang was sentenced to two years and nine months in jail. She has also been ordered to forfeit a large home in Johns Creek, cash, high-end watches, and designer purses.
It was revealed that the trio was at the centre of the prostitution ring that had been operating out of an apartment complex for more than 10 years
The prosecutors said that Huang operated the brothel from a complex in Doraville from December 2005 through May 2017, while Chow and Gong conspired together by managing the day-to-day operations.
"The defendants induced women of Asian descent to travel to Georgia from across the US, including California and New York, for work at the brothel as commercial sex workers. Huang advertised her business online and by word-of-mouth," read a press statement by the US' Department of Justice.
Acccording to US Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak, the trio arranged for sex workers to travel to the brothel on commercial flights into Atlanta approximately every 10 days on a rotating basis.
The court was told that proceeds derived from the brothel had been laundered through Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and Metro City Bank
The prosecutors added that the operation of the brothel was being funded using the proceeds from the illegal business.
The Attorney's Office added that Huang managed to launder more than USD150,000 in criminally derived proceeds during the conspiracy.
Following the sentencing by the court, the defendants' lawyers argued that their clients' offence were not as severe as prosecutors asserted
Chow's lawyer, Howard Manchel of Manchel, Wiggins & Kaye, reportedly said that the women involved were not coerced into working as sex workers.
"The women were commercial sex workers (CSW) who were not working under any conditions that could be considered coercive, otherwise the sentences would have been significantly longer," Manchel said.
"The women traveled to and from Atlanta on their own, pocketed their earnings and left to return to their homes in New York and Los Angeles. In the time the brothel was in existence, there were never any complaints to law enforcement or reasons for law enforcement to come calling. I believe the clientele was entirely Asian, as were the employees and CSW," he added.
Lawyer R. Gary Spencer, who represented Gong, shared the same opinion as Manchel
"From what I know these women knew what was happening. This was not a circumstance where women were being coerced or tricked.
"This was a garden variety whorehouse. I don't disbelieve for a minute that there is a serious human-trafficking problem in Atlanta, that women are being abused and exploited, but this was not it," he was quoted as saying by Daily Report.
Chow, Huang, and Gong will all be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation upon completing their sentences.