DENVER — A Colorado grand jury indicted three people in a criminal enterprise to coerce women into sexual activity with customers at four massage parlors in Denver and Lakewood, the state attorney general's office said Friday.
Hye Kyeung Seo, Sang Hyon Shim and Seon Hee Wolf are charged with 19 counts that include human trafficking, pimping, money laundering, the attorney general's office says in a news release.
The three owned and operated four massage parlors where the crimes took place, authorities said:
- Jewel Spa, 1836/1838 S. Sheridan Blvd., Denver
- Pine Therapy, 8485 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood
- ABC Spa, 727 Simms St., Unit A, Lakewood
- A Spa, 6469 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood
Officials are crediting a tip from the public that started the investigation.
“About a year ago, a man walked into a massage parlor called the Jewel Spa," said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. “He thought it was a legitimate massage business, so he was surprised when during the course of this encounter he was asked or propositioned for a sexual act, which he declined, and then after speaking to the woman, she began to cry and became emotionally distressed.”
The three suspects were accused of conspiring to coerce women into sexual activity with customers for money at those spas between at least January 2021 and March of this year.
“Because the initial incident occurred at the Jewel Spa, the codename for this investigation became, 'bedazzled,' " McCann said.
Sgt. Aaron Kafer with the Denver Police Human Trafficking Department said they rely on specific information given to them by the public to bust these kinds of human trafficking and money laundering schemes.
Each spa had a small bedroom where employees appeared to live and sleep, the attorney general's office said.
The suspects were accused of laundering money from the prostitution through multiple methods, including through casinos and money orders, making small cash deposits at ATMs and evading federal reporting requirements, according to the release.
Investigators linked the suspects to the enterprise through business records, banking records, vehicle registrations and phone records, the release says.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that human trafficking is a growing problem in the state.
“Human traffickers commonly use illicit massage businesses to exploit workers," he says in the release. "It is critical for law enforcement and community partners to continue to work together to investigate and prosecute those who victimize and traffic people for sexual servitude."
A new ordinance, which was modeled after one in Aurora, will go into effect on July 1 in Denver. McCann said it will allow the city to go inside massage businesses to do inspections, which they believe will help them go after traffickers.
The suspects were charged with:
- Felony racketeering and conspiracy under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act
- Conspiracy to commit human trafficking for sexual servitude
- Conspiracy to commit pimping
- Money laundering
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering
- Keeping a place of prostitution
Seo and Shim were also charged with:
- Human Trafficking for sexual Servitude
Agencies that worked on the investigation included the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit, 1st Judicial District Attorney's Office, Denver District Attorney's Office, Colorado Department of Revenue Criminal Tax Enforcement Section, Lakewood Police Department and the Denver Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit.
There's a Human Trafficking Hotline for those being exploited or to report a tip: 866-455-5075. You can also text the number 720-999-9724.
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