Sex Ring Bust Rescues Enslaved Women: Police

Beat cop credited with helping bust group who allegedly exploited Asian immigrants

By Lori Preuitt
|  Friday, Jan 21, 2011  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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Sex Ring Bust Rescues Enslaved Women: Police

A Hartford police officer under investigation for the beating of a suspect took his first steps toward retiring.

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Bay Area law enforcement released details Friday about a large-scale bust of a Bay Area prostitution ring that investigators said exploited Asian women.

Police agencies in Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties fanned out Thursday at several Bay Area locations. The FBI, IRS and Department of Justice also took part in the busts.

Eight people were arrested for their role in operating the ring, according to officials. Police also recovered ten women who they said were victims. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said investigators think the leaders of the sex ring brought in dozens of women from Taiwan and China and placed them on the prostitution circuit by cycling them through Bay Area brothels.

Investigators said they are trying to "determine the degree to which human exploitation and trafficking is involved in procuring and enslaving the women recovered from these brothels."

A Hayward police officer is credited with finding the ring and sparking the investigation. The officer looked into complaints of suspected prostitution inside a Hayward home. The following investigation found evidence that the home was part of a larger sex ring of similar brothels.

"This is a historic operation because so many agencies from all over the Bay Area came together under the umbrella of H.E.A.T. Watch for what represents the first multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency Regional H.E.A.T. Watch operation.  Efforts of this magnitude and this degree of collaboration by local, state and federal law enforcement and service providers are unprecedented and bode well for future efforts to successfully combat the H.E.A.T. epidemic plaguing our region," said Sharmin Bock, Assistant District Attorney in Charge of Special Operations and Policy Development.

Bock said she is still reviewing "mountains of evidence" in the case and will decide next week on the specific charges she will file against the suspects.

They face both federal and local charges.
 

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