Statewide grand jury indicts 3 Jefferson County massage parlor operators in human trafficking and money laundering scheme
April 8, 2022 (DENVER)—The statewide grand jury indicted three individuals on 19 counts in a complex human trafficking, pimping, and money laundering criminal enterprise involving massage parlors in Denver and Lakewood, Attorney General Phil Weiser and law enforcement partners announced today.
According to the indictment, since at least January of 2021 and until March of this year, Hye Kyeung Seo, Sang Hyon Shim, and Seon Hee Wolf conspired to coerce women into engaging in sexual activity for money with customers at the spas they owned and operated. The spas are Jewel Spa in Denver and Pine Therapy, ABC Spa, and A Spa in Jefferson County, which are registered businesses with the State of Colorado. Each of the spas had a small bedroom where employees appeared to live and sleep.
Investigators linked the three individuals to the enterprise through a variety of records, including business records, banking records, vehicle registrations, and phone records, among others. Evidence demonstrates that the defendants profited from and lived off the money earned through illegal prostitution and trafficking at the massage parlors. The defendants are also accused of using multiple methods to launder the proceeds from the enterprise, including laundering money through casinos, the use of money orders, making repeated small cash deposits through ATM deposits, and evading federal transaction reporting requirements.
The defendants are charged with felony racketeering and conspiracy under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (F2), Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude (F4), Pimping (F3), Conspiracy to Commit Pimping (F4), Money Laundering (F3), Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (F4), Keeping a Place of Prostitution (M2), and Pandering (M3). Seo and Shim are also charged with Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude (F3).
“Human trafficking is a growing problem throughout Colorado and preventing human trafficking-related offenses from illicit businesses represented as massage parlors is a high priority of the state. Human traffickers commonly use illicit massage businesses to exploit workers. 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,” Attorney General Weiser said.
“As a law enforcement community, we are getting better and better about dismantling these complex, human trafficking operations,” said Denver DA Beth McCann. “By working together and coordinating our resources, law enforcement and our community partners are supporting the myriad needs of victims and holding traffickers accountable for profiting off of the pain and suffering they cause.”
“Human trafficking is a gross abuse of humanity, and our community greatly appreciates the collaboration of our agencies as well as the service of the grand jurors on this case,” First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said.
The investigation in this case was possible due to the dedication and expertise of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit, the offices of First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King and Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, the Colorado Department of Revenue Criminal Tax Enforcement Section, the Lakewood Police Department, and the Denver Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit.
“It is through collaboration between residents and law enforcement that we can have the greatest impact in fighting human trafficking and other crimes, so our gratitude goes out to the community member whose tip prompted this investigation,” said Denver Chief of Police Paul M. Pazen. “I also applaud the dedicated professionals on the Denver Police Human Trafficking Team and partner agencies for their hard work and commitment throughout this expansive investigation.”
The case is filed in Denver District Court and the case numbers are: Hye Kyeung Seo, 2022CR015056; Sang Hyon Shim, 2022CR015057; and Seon Hee Wolf, 2022CR015058.
A grand jury indictment is merely a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime under Colorado laws. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
To report or seek help, Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7 hotline and survivor-informed resource created to connect individuals experiencing exploitation, individuals reporting potential human trafficking tips, and service providers in search of referral resources with available support services in a safe and anonymous manner. Individuals can also text the Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline between noon and midnight mountain time 720-999-9724.