Wei X. Chen is accused of operating three brothels in Cambridge that were frequented by alleged members of an illegal gambling business and drug-trafficking conspiracy.
An investigation into Asian gangs in the area has resulted in charges being brought against three individuals related to prostitution, with one man accused of operating brothels in Cambridge and Allston.
Wei X. Chen, Yue Q. He, and Xiaohong Xue were indicted on charges of "conspiring to induce travel to engage in prostitution," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release on July 12.
Chen allegedly operated three brothels in East Cambridge at 108 Second St., 185 Charles St., and 87 Gore St., as well as a brothel in Allston at 171 Everett St., according to the indictment. The brothels were staffed primarily by Asian prostitutes, according to an affadavit from an FBI agent.
If convicted of the prostitution conspiracy charges, they will spend up to five years in prison and each pay a $250,000 fine.
Chen was arrested on July 1 and has pleaded not guilty. Authorities have not been able to arrest He or Xue, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. District Court.
Chen and He were also indicted for possession and intent to distribute ecstasy. If convicted of the ecstasy charges, they will spend up to 20 years in prison and pay $1 million in fines for each count.
The arrests were the product of a multi-year investigation into organized crime in Chinatown, resulting in indictments being brought against 26 people from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida.
"This criminal organization is alleged to have trafficked large amounts of drugs, threatened and beat up individuals who failed to pay off large illegal debts, and moved women around the country to work in their brothels," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in a statement.
Minh Cam Luong, along with nine others, was charged with running an illegal gambling business and using violence against clients who did not pay their debts.
Employees of Luong, a member of the Ping On Gang in the early '90s, allegedly frequented Chen's brothels, as did associates of John Willis, the alleged leader of a drug-trafficking conspiracy who goes by “Bac Guai John," or "White Devil John," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
—Staff writer Leanna B. Ehrlich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.