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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Authorities closed down 20 brothels masquerading as massage parlors and arrested 22 people for running a sex trafficking and prostitution network involving Korean women across four states, officials said.
The New York Asian Organized Crime Task Force, comprised of FBI and New York police investigators, uncovered a network of brothels in New York state, Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania over the past year.
Prosecutors said brothel owners were transporting Korean women around the country for prostitution.
"Trafficking in human flesh and sexually exploiting women for financial gain is all too common and simply will not be tolerated," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement released late on Wednesday.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, "It takes a special depravity to take women from their home 6,880 miles away and exploit them here."
Most of those arrested were charged with transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison on conviction.
Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Michelle Nichols and Jonathan Oatis