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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
11/21/2018

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Dallas sting operation nabs spa proprietor mongering illicit sex

Federal grand jury indicts her on racketeering charges

DALLAS — Following a sting operation at a Dallas hotel earlier this month, law enforcement liberated dozens of women sold for sex, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox, Northern District of Texas.

This week, a federal grand jury indicted Helen Kim — the alleged proprietor of the prostitution ring — on racketeering charges.

“It takes a lot of coordination to ensure an operation like this goes without a hitch. I’m proud of the way law enforcement came together to fight for these young women,” said Nealy Cox. “The defendant’s willingness to demean women for financial gain is sickening. We cannot and will not allow this type of behavior to go unchecked in North Texas.”

More than 50 officers participated in the Nov. 1 undercover operation, which included the following agencies:  Dallas Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Agents, posted at the hotel bar and in rooms upstairs, posed as out-of-town businessmen prepared to pay for illicit sex.

According to the indictment, Kim, 58, had agreed to provide dozens of women for that very purpose.

In earlier conversations with a confidential informant and an undercover Dallas Police Department detective, Kim and her 36-year-old son allegedly negotiated private sexual liaisons with 20 to 25 women at a rate of $2,000 each, for a total of at least $40,000. The pair promised the “girlfriend experience,” and even allowed the CI and UD to meet several of the women at a local Sushi bar.

During another meeting at a nearby Starbucks, Kim allegedly accepted $5,000 as an upfront payment. She insisted the men should not talk publicly about the affair. 

“The way this is set up,” her son told the undercover officer, “it could be considered human trafficking.”

At the Nov. 1 sting, Kim accepted the remainder of the cash, paid in marked bills, and was taken into custody shortly thereafter. Several of the women in her employ were taken to Mosaic House, a local shelter for women fleeing human trafficking. Many had been living at her purported “spas,” Pink One and Illusion, impelled to cater to customers at all times of the day and night. 

If convicted, Kim faces up to five years in federal prison. Prosecutors have seized assets from her home and massage parlors. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Raybould and Cara Foos Pierce, Northern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/21/2018