A federal grand jury has indicted three men on sex trafficking charges after operating an interstate prostitution business.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Moellering, between March 2011 and March 2016 Feng Yang Chen, 41, LiangLiang Guo, 31, and Cheng Qi Li, 28, used the website Backpage.com to promote their multi-state prostitution organization.
Officials say the trio posted advertisements on the website which lead to encounters with prostitutes. The encounters reached New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
Moellering says Chen and Li controlled a call center in Flushing, Queens to schedule meetings between prostitutes and clients. Guo acted as the driver, taking victims to hotels and collecting the profits from the commercial sex acts. Some of these meetings happened in Tonawanda and Henrietta.
A total of 12 victims traveled state to state to engage in these acts, according to the indictment.
The indictment looks to take the proceeds from the illegal prostitution activities, totaling $476,354.74; two properties in Flushing, NY; a 2012 Porsche Cayenne; and several electronics, including cell phones, computers and iPads used during the prostitution conspiracy.
All three men are charged with conspiracy to violate the Mann Act and the Travel Act related to the operation of an interstate prostitution business.
Chen is additionally charged conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Chen faces a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Guo and Li face a maximum of five years each in prison.