18 Charged With Operating Prostitution and Drug Ring

By for The New York Times on January 30, 2014—
“Just days before the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Thursday announced charges against 18 people for operating a high-end prostitution and drug trafficking ring.

The investigation began 11 months ago, but Mr. Schneiderman said the timing of the arrests was intended to raise awareness of the issue of sex trafficking before the Super Bowl.

The operation, called “Operation Out of Bounds,” involved over $3 million in credit-card transactions, a figure that Mr. Schneiderman called “a staggering number,” considering that most transactions in the illegal sex industry are based on cash. Those involved in the scheme advertised a “party pack” that combined sex and drugs, he said.

He added that investigators saw a “huge increase” in text messages soliciting business believed to be aimed at out-of-town visitors in recent days.

“They started blasting out these text messages more and more frequently, and they were getting responses,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “They had identified people they thought were high rollers who might be coming to New York.” Transactions took place in “respectable neighborhoods” and in hotels.

The arrests targeted organizers of the ring. Women believed to be victims of prostitution were offered social services in lieu of being arrested.

The investigation into the buyers of sex and drugs was continuing, officials said, adding that the number of customers was in the hundreds.”

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