DENVER (KDVR)- It’s an operation that prosecutors are calling “Bedazzled,” but the charges are far from dazzling. Three business operators in Denver and Lakewood have been indicted and are now facing multiple charges including human trafficking, pimping and money laundering.
The state’s Attorney General announced on Friday that agencies across the Front Range have teamed up to stop several business owners from taking advantage of a group of women.
“Our statewide grand jury has indicted three individuals on 19 counts for alleged involvement in this complex scheme,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said at a press conference announcing the indictments.
“In this case we have been able to work on a human trafficking, pimping and money laundering criminal enterprise involving the operations of massage parlors in Denver and in Lakewood.”
Weiser said since last January, three massage parlor owners and operators, Hye Kyeung Seo, Sang Hyon Shim, and Seon Hee Wolf, used Pine Therapy, A Spac and ABC Spa in Jefferson County, and Jewel Spa in Denver to coerce women into performing sexual acts. They even had beds on hand at the parlors for the women to sleep in.
“Because the initial incident occurred at the Jewel Spa, the code name for this investigation became bedazzled,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Despite the alluring name, prosecutors and law enforcement are warning the public that human trafficking is an ugly issue they need help keeping an eye on.
“We rely on the specific information from the public information given to us from the public and in this case that was instrumental to start us down the path of understanding what was happening at that specific location,” said Sgt. Aaron Kafer with the Denver Police Human Trafficking Team.
Neighbors in the area say are disappointed but they know how big the issue is.
Leaders involved in the operation say they are encouraging the public to continue to speak up when they suspect trafficking. They are also encouraging victims to come forward, stressing they are focused on prosecuting the traffickers not the people being trafficked.
Lawmakers at the state capitol are working on a measure that would grant sex workers and victims of human trafficking immunity while reporting abuse, including trafficking. The state has a Human Trafficking Hotline people can call to report the behavior. Prosecutors also point to an ordinance passed last year in Denver as means for more crackdowns to come in the future.