Californians sentenced in sex trafficking scheme

A California man who was the subject of a long-term investigation into a prostitution ring and money laundering conspiracy in the Seattle area was sentenced today to 22 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release, following aninvestigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jesus “Jesse” DeLeon, 47, of Irvine, California, pleaded guilty in July 2009 to conspiracy charges of transporting individuals in furtherance of prostitution. He and his co-conspirators operated several brothels housed in massage parlors and tanning salons in the greater Seattle area.

A second defendant in the case, Donald Kerry Frey, 38, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was sentenced earlier this week to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy. He assisted DeLeon with running the brothels, and picking up large cash payments from the individual who managed the businesses.

ICE’s investigation showed that Frey knew the women working at the brothels had been recruited and transported from out of state to provide sex acts to customers. The three businesses involved in the scheme were the Aloha Tanning Resort on Sunset Avenue in Renton, Wash., the Avalon Spa on Aurora Avenue in North Seattle, and the Malibu Tanning Spa on Interurban Avenue South in Tukwila, Wash.

The prosecutor in the case wrote to the court that DeLeon “created and developed a fairly sophisticated scheme of operating prostitution-front businesses…and made concerted efforts to conceal the criminal proceeds through the use of multiple bank accounts. When he believed law enforcement may discover these accounts, he closed them and initiated the physical transportation of thousands of dollars from Washington to California to avoid law enforcement detection.”

“The exploitation of women in this manner for the sole purpose of turning a profit is not only criminal, it is an unacceptable way to treat other human beings,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE will aggressively investigate these crimes to deter this type of activity in the future.”

As part of his sentence, DeLeon was ordered to forfeit more than $152,000. He was also directed to surrender 11 luxury watches including four Rolexes and two Swiss-made TAG Heuers. During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart noted that DeLeon had already served 22 months in a California state prison for a similar scheme in Sacramento County. The federal sentence handed down today is in addition to the state prison time.

ICE was joined in the investigation by the Seattle Police Department, the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.


Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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