Five Arrested in Joint Federal-state Takedown of Major Human Trafficking Operation, Authorities Pledge Support to Trafficking Victims
AG’s Office, FBI Worked with Local Authorities to Dismantle Sex Trafficking Operation in Boston, Cambridge, North Reading, and Quincy
BOSTON – A joint investigation and takedown by Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Division has resulted in the arrest of five individuals in connection with a major human trafficking and money laundering operation that extended throughout Greater Boston. Victim specialists in the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance and AG Healey’s Victim Services Division are working with victim service organizations to ensure victims have the assistance and services they need.
Pingxia Fan, age 40, of Boston, Timothy Hayes, age 50, of Gloucester, Simon Shimao Lin, age 59, of Boston, Biqun Xiao, age 47, of Deerfield, N.H., and Robert Mozer, age 65, of Deerfield, N.H., were all arrested today in connection with trafficking women for sex at brothels in Boston, Cambridge, North Reading and Quincy.
“Today’s arrests follow a tragic pattern we are seeing in our neighborhoods—vulnerable individuals being preyed upon and sexually exploited for profit,” said AG Healey. “We want victims to know that they will not be prosecuted and that our offices will work to make sure they receive the services they need and deserve.”
“Sex trafficking is without a doubt, the most common form of modern-day slavery and it’s big business,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “As alleged, Fan and her co-conspirators were offering sex for a fee on a large-scale basis in brothels across Massachusetts, exploiting women, many of whom were transported here from out of state. This case demonstrates the problem is right here within our communities, impacting victims, the safety of our neighborhoods, and our quality of life. Together, with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to identify and locate the criminal enterprises that are perpetrating these egregious crimes.”
Fan, Hayes and Lin were each charged with one count of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Deriving Support from Prostitution, Money Laundering, Keeping House of Ill Fame, and Conspiracy. Mozer and Xiao were charged with one count each of Conspiracy to Traffic Persons for Sexual Servitude.
Fan and Lin were arrested this morning in Boston. Hayes was arrested in Gloucester and Mozer and Xiao were arrested in Quincy.
Fan, Lin, Hayes and Mozer were all arraigned today in Woburn District Court where they pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Bail was set at $150,000 cash for each Fan, Lin and Hayes. Bail was set at $50,000 for Mozer. The condition of release for all four defendants are as follows: surrender passport; GPS monitoring; stay away from victims, co-defendants and buyers; and no internet use. These defendants are due back in Woburn District Court on June 2 for probable cause hearings.
Xiao will be arraigned in Quincy District Court tomorrow morning.
Today’s arrests are the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Division Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Human Trafficking Division.
The investigation revealed that the five defendants ran a sex trafficking and money laundering operation involving multiple brothels—two in Quincy, and individual ones located in Boston, Cambridge and North Reading. The defendants allegedly posted online advertisements offering sexual services and used multiple vehicles to transport sex trafficking victims, money and supplies.
The defendants allegedly arranged for women to meet with men at the brothel locations to provide commercial sexual services in exchange for cash. Authorities allege the majority of the money from these encounters went to the defendants, which they laundered into the business to perpetuate the daily operations of the criminal enterprise.
Authorities today executed search warrants at the five brothel locations at which ten victims were identified. Search warrants were also executed at residences in Boston and Gloucester.
Various units from the Massachusetts State Police provided assistance in this case. The Boston, Cambridge, Gloucester, Newton, North Reading, Quincy and Revere Police Departments also provided assistance.
This investigation remains ongoing. These charges are allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
AG Healey has a dedicated Human Trafficking Division that focuses on policy, prevention and prosecution and includes a team of specialized prosecutors, victim advocates and Massachusetts State Police troopers who handle high impact, multi-jurisdictional human trafficking investigations and prosecutions across the state. Through the Human Trafficking Division, the AG’s Office has charged more than 30 individuals in connection with human trafficking since the law was passed.
The FBI Boston Division's Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force is one of 12 DOJ-funded task forces in the country with the mission to combat sex and labor trafficking. Nationally, the FBI participates in over 100 human trafficking task forces and working groups. The FBI believes in a victim-centered approach to human trafficking investigations, where identifying and stabilizing victims of this heinous crime is equally as important as providing resources to help them.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Nancy Rothstein and Jeffrey Bourgeois, both of the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, with assistance from Nikki Antonucci and Rebecca Auld of the AG’s Victim Services Division and Investigator Jillian Petruzziello of the AG’s Financial Investigations Division. It was investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Human Trafficking Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Division Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force, with assistance from the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab. The Massachusetts State Police and the Boston, Cambridge, Gloucester, Newton, North Reading, Quincy and Revere Police Departments also provided assistance.