New York law enforcement authorities cracked down yesterday on a prostitution ring that they said advertised on public access cable TV, took credit cards and used text messages to market "party packs" of cocaine and sex to clients.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the gang had been under surveillance for 11 months, but authorities decided to act now in the hope of disrupting any parties that might have been in the works for the upcoming Super Bowl weekend.
More than half of the 18 suspects charged in the case were under arrest yesterday afternoon, including a Long Island woman who authorities said went by the code-name "Beige" and was the primary ringleader. The rest were being sought.
"Beige" was named in court papers as Hyun Ok Yoonung, or Hyun Ok Yoon, of Woodbury. She was still awaiting arraignment early yesterday evening.
At a midday news conference, Schneiderman held up a credit card reader that he said had been used by the gang, and said investigators had so far identified $3 million worth of charges processed in connection with sex and drug sales.
"Keep in mind that most johns pay cash," Schneiderman said. "So that's a staggering number for an enterprise like this."
Authorities said records showed that the ring set up phony clothing, wig, beauty supply and limousine businesses to disguise payments and launder money.
Schneiderman said authorities considered the sex workers to be exploited "victims," and said only their managers would face charges.