Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrest of Two Sisters Running San Francisco Sex Trafficking Ring
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of two women accused of operating a sex trafficking ring in San Francisco. The arrests are the result of a five-month joint investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“The victims in these brothels were treated as commodities in an insidious human marketplace,” Attorney General Harris said. “Human trafficking is a heinous crime that destroys the lives of victims and threatens the safety of our communities. I want to recognize the steadfast commitment of our Task Force agents, law enforcement partners, and community organizations to bring perpetrators to justice and help rebuild these victims’ lives.”
“The interruption of this sex trafficking, under the leadership of the Attorney General Harris’s Office, is just another example of San Francisco’s commitment to protecting and preserving the basic rights of all; especially our most vulnerable,” SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said. “Fully understanding the gravity of the human trafficking trade, the San Francisco Police Department developed its own Human Trafficking Unit, partnering with other agencies to conduct proactive victim-centered investigations of sex and labor trafficking crimes.”
Defendants Qiao He, a.k.a. “Judy,” 37, and her sister Gaineng He, 36, both of San Francisco, were arrested today and charged with felony pimping and pandering. They are both being held at the San Francisco County Jail on $25,000 bail each and will be prosecuted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office is still investigating potential tax fraud and conspiracy violations.
In January 2014, the Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement (TRaCE) Task Force of the California Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation of an alleged sex trafficking ring in San Francisco’s Richmond District operated by sisters Qiao He and Gaineng He.
Over a period of several months, TRaCE’s investigation revealed that “Johns” allegedly paid as much as $200 for sexual intercourse with their choice of one of several young Asian women in the brothels. During the investigation, the defendants repeatedly told undercover agents that “new girls” were brought in every Sunday.
On May 7, agents with the California Department of Justice, HSI and SFPD executed search warrants on four San Francisco locations, including 385 7th Avenue, 4719 Geary Boulevard #601, 2094 24th Avenue, and 1511 24th Avenue.
The joint investigation was led by the California Attorney General’s TRaCE Task Force, which includes representatives of the FBI, California Franchise Tax Board, California Board of Equalization, California Employment Development Department and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. TRaCE is a statewide task force created in 2014 to combat organized elements of the underground economy engaged in the manufacturing, importation, distribution and sale of pirated intellectual property, and other economic crimes resulting from the evasion of business and income taxes.
In March of this year, Attorney General Harris released a report, Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime, which is the first comprehensive report analyzing the current state of transnational criminal organizations in California (http://oag.ca.gov/transnational-organized-crime). In addition, the report made recommendations to address the issue of transnational crime and human trafficking in our state, which included funding the state task forces that investigate and disrupt these organizations.
Attorney General Harris has been a strong advocate for increased collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies during the investigation and prosecution of the crime of human trafficking.
In 2012, Attorney General Harris released a report, The State of Human Trafficking in California, which outlined the growing prevalence of the crime of human trafficking in the state (http://www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking/2012). The report describes the evolving challenges California faces in addressing this crime, which has become a $32 billion-a-year global industry.
Please note that these are only allegations and, as with all defendants, those named here must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.