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Major Manhattan-based prostitution and drug ring taken down, three days before Super Bowl

NEW YORK – Charges against 18 individuals for running a high-end prostitution and drug trafficking ring were announced on Thursday. The suspects are charged with conspiracy and a variety of underlying crimes, including narcotics sales, promoting prostitution and money laundering.   The sweep was announced by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by NYPD Chief of Department Phillip Banks III and representatives from the New York State Police,

Schneiderman detailed a nearly year-long undercover investigation that brought down a criminal ring charged with selling so-called “party packs,” involving cocaine and prostitutes, and laundering the illegal proceeds through front businesses that included a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler. The ring is estimated to have generated millions of dollars in illegal proceeds and was working to market its services to a high-end clientele coming to the New York metropolitan area for the Super Bowl.

“Drug trafficking and prostitution are a scourge on communities across our state,” Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement on multi-agency investigations like this one to take down networks of criminals who exploit women and poison our communities for profit.”

Bratton said, "These criminals utilized apartments in residential buildings as a way of carrying out their illicit activities. They disregarded the safety and well-being of every member in those communities by providing a ‘one-stop shopping’ drug and prostitution ring. Thanks to the NYPD's Vice Enforcement Major Case and Human Tracking Teams, investigators from the New York State Attorney General's Office, the New York State Police, the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Attorney's Office Southern District, this criminal enterprise no longer operates."

Over the course of an 11-month investigation utilizing undercover investigators, physical and electronic surveillance and reviews of business records, the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York Police Department determined that the individuals arrested today engaged in a criminal conspiracy that spanned Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens and several other states, though the operation was based in Manhattan. 

Investigators believe that the suspects targeted wealthy out-of-town customers as prospective clients, especially before and during large events in the tri-state area. As recently as last week, just 10 days before the Super Bowl, a text message was blasted to frequent customers noting that “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u.” 

The criminal ring also promoted its prostitution business with numerous advertisements on the internet and public access television. In addition to promoting prostitutes, the ring sold cocaine, often to the same customers.

Transcripts of conversations that were intercepted by electronic surveillance revealed that the ring used various code names for cocaine, including “party,” “jewelry,” “powder,” “maek” and “Soojaebi,” a Korean noodle and vegetable soup. Intercepted conversations also revealed that prostitutes would bring cocaine with them to meetings with johns who had ordered the drugs in advance. This is what they referred to as a “party pack.” 

The ring charged customers for sex and drugs as a package deal, sometimes billing for cocaine in an equivalent number of “hours” of prostitution. In some cases, the ring accepted credit cards in payment for sex and drugs. It was common practice for this ring to supply the johns with large quantities of drugs brought by one prostitute, and then once the john was impaired by the drugs, the ring would flood the room with additional prostitutes and repeatedly charge the john’s credit card, at times charging upward of $10,000 for one night. Through its various front businesses, the ring would charge credit cards for legitimate goods and services that were not actually provided in order to disguise the fact that customers were actually paying for cocaine and sex.