Brothel owner Helen Kim has pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge.
Kim, 59, was apprehended by law enforcement in November, after a sting operation at a Dallas hotel liberated a number of foreign-born commercial sex workers.
She pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of use of a facility of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise involving prostitution before Magistrate Judge Renee Toliver.
“I am proud that our law enforcement partners poured significant resources into this sting operation in order to liberate the numerous women that Ms. Kim sold for sex,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “We were determined to hold her accountable for her willingness to demean other women for financial gain.”
In plea papers, Kim – the owner of brothels “Pink One” and “Illusion Spa” – admitted that she agreed to take more than $40,00 in exchange for providing illicit sex services to a group of out of town “businessmen” partying at a local hotel.
Those “businessmen” were in fact undercover law enforcement. More than 50 officers from the Dallas Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Homeland Security Investigations participated in the Nov. 1 undercover operation, which involved agents posing as businessmen posted at the hotel bar and in rooms upstairs.
According to an indictment returned in November, Kim and her 36-year-old son had previously negotiated the businessmen’s private sexual liaisons with 20 to 25 women at a rate of $2,000 each, for a total of at least $40,000. The pair promised the “girlfriend experience,” and even allowed an undercover detective to meet several of the women at a local sushi bar.
“The way this is set up,” her son allegedly told the undercover officer, “it could be considered human trafficking.”
In her plea papers, Ms. Kim admitted that she employed more than 10 commercial sex workers at her two brothels. Many of the women lived at the establishments, in order to cater to customers at all times of the day and night, she acknowledged.
Kim now faces up to five years in federal prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Raybould and Cara Foos Pierce are prosecuting the case.