NYC officials bust drug and prostitution ring ahead of Super Bowl
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A multimillion-dollar New York City drug and prostitution ring has been busted, law enforcement officials said on Thursday, as they warned Super Bowl fans to steer clear of the city's sex and narcotics underworld.
Ring leaders offered high-flyer clients "party packs" of drugs and prostitutes in three separate operations aggressively pushing both sex and cocaine, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told a news conference.
"Once the "john" (customer) was high or impaired on drugs, they would call in other prostitutes and repeatedly charge the john's credit cards, in excess of $10,000, in some cases, for one evening," Schneiderman said.
The 11-month probe by Schneiderman's organized crime task force, in coordination with the New York Police Department's vice squad, netted more than $3 million in credit card charges over the past year, he said.
"Keep in mind that most johns pay cash, so that's a staggering number for an enterprise like this."
The investigation began when two convicted madams who were arrested last year were caught on wiretaps discussing a woman named "Beige" as one of the biggest players on the market.
Hyun Ok "Beige" Yoon, 41, was arrested along with 17 other members of the ring's suspected management, said NYPD Chief of Department Phillip Banks III. They were charged with conspiracy and underlying charges of money laundering, narcotics sales and promoting prostitution.
The alleged ring is suspected of laundering their proceeds through phony virtual companies, including clothing, wig and beauty supply wholesalers as well as a limousine service.
The suspects advertised via suggestive text messages and on public access television, investigators said.
Schneiderman said investigators had seen a sharp "uptick" in ads ahead of the Super Bowl, when hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected in New York and New Jersey for the event.
He warned anyone considering coming to New York this weekend for prostitutes and drugs to stay home.
"Better to get yourself in front of a TV, watch the game, have a couple of beers, and stay out of trouble," he said.