PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Toronto man was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Thursday for leading an international sex trafficking ring with dozens of Asian brothels in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Zongtao Chen, also known as Mark Chen, 49, was extradited to the U.S. from Canada and arraigned in the District of Oregon in February for racketeering charges. In Oregon, he oversaw brothels in Portland, Tigard and Beaverton, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Chen’s criminal cell recruited women, primarily from China, and would have them travel to the U.S. and other countries for prostitution, court documents said.
In the cities they were working, a “’boss’” would oversee a brothel in a hotel or apartment complex, authorities said. Customers would connect with them through a website, text, email or WeChat and a “date” would be set up.
On November 15, 2018, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Chen along with four co-conspirators — 40-year-old Weixuan Zhou, also known as Marco Zhou, of Guangzhou, China; 36-year-old Yan Wang also known as Sarah Wang, of Temecula, California; 35-year-old Chaodan Wang, and 38-year-old Ting Fu, both of Beaverton. They were charged with racketeering.
On January 15, 2019, authorities conducted sting operations across the U.S., targeting Chen’s sex trafficking network along with other networks.
The FBI seized 500 domains associated with trafficking networks and 25 location-specific sub-domains. More than 30,000 phone numbers and records were found in a computer program by law enforcement. Shortly thereafter, Chen was arrested by Toronto law enforcement per a request by the U.S., authorities said.
Chen pleaded guilty on March 4. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years of supervised release.