SEATTLE — Federal prosecutors in Seattle say six people have been arrested
in a four-state prostitution ring that exploited women who emigrated from
The investigation began with a tip about a Kirkland apartment complex. The U.S.
attorney’s office said Monday the conspirators advertised Asian women for
massage services on backpage.com, and that they rented apartments in Bellevue
and Kirkland, Wash.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Chicago; and Falls Church, Va., to use
Prosecutors say most of the women were recruited in Thailand, and many had
overstayed their visas in the U.S. They owed as much as $60,000 in smuggling
debts to the woman accused of leading the scheme, 34-year-old Unruean Aboulafia
Aboulafia’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Prosecutors say most of the women came to the U.S. knowing they would be sex
workers to pay off their debts.