DOJ announces arrests in ‘sophisticated brothel network’ used by elected officials, military officers and others


Three people have been arrested on charges of running a “sophisticated 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 U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said of the large client list during a news conference in Boston. “They are 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, Calif.; and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Massachusetts, have been charged with conspiracy to compel and entice to travel to engage in unlawful sexual activity. They are expected to appear in federal court in Boston on Wednesday or at a later date.

The three individuals, Levy said, transported women and advertised them online for pre-approved customers to choose from through several websites and ran brothels out of apartments they rented.

“This case dates back to the summer of 2022, where investigators identified multiple buyers through surveillance phone records and interviews,” Levy said. “The buyers who made this ring come from a variety of professions.”

He added: “They are doctors, they are lawyers, they are accountants, they are elected officials, they are heads of high-tech companies and pharmaceutical companies, they are military officers, government contractors, professors, scientists. They are the men who are passionate about this commercial sex ring.”

“There are potentially hundreds of individuals who took these services as commercial sex buyers,” Levy said, noting that the investigation is still in its early stages.

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“Alleged potential sex buyers in this scheme first had to answer 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 deals with Asian women, according to an affidavit filed in court by a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

The agent said about 20 sex buyers were interviewed as part of the multi-year investigation. A customer described receiving a text message with available options at a brothel, including the available women, the sexual services and the hourly rate.

The agent said he believes the brothels are “sophisticated” because of the high cost of the used rental units and “the extent of the sex buyers’ professional disciplines.”

Customers are not named in the statement, according to the agent, because the investigation into their involvement is “active and ongoing.”

CNN has contacted lawyers for Junmyung Lee and Han Lee. No attorney is listed for James Lee in court.