A woman is led to a police vehicle by an Alameda County Sheriff's deputy during an alleged prostitution ring bust at the SoFi Apartments in Dublin, Calif.
DUBLIN — A seven-month undercover police and FBI investigation came to a head Friday as authorities converged on multiple locations across Alameda and San Mateo counties, busting suspected johns, detaining women believed to be sex workers, and ultimately arresting two alleged leaders of a sophisticated sex-trafficking ring. Investigators say the duo were running the operation like a business, renting out apartment rooms in six locations throughout the Bay Area, using social media to advertise at least a dozen sex workers, and even handing out business cards to johns.
One apartment unit in Dublin contained a lobby area with a large HD television, a dimly lit bedroom with a mattress and incense, as well as two suitcases containing lingerie, bikinis, and other clothes. Curtis Ng, 45, arrested in Oakland, and Shelly Yu, 49, arrested in Hayward, were charged with pimping, pandering, and conspiracy.
But that list of charges may grow as authorities continue to investigate the case. Authorities say Ng and Yu bought condoms and personal lubricant in bulk and distributed them to the various residences under their control.
Several officers on the scene of the suspected brothels in Dublin said this was the biggest sex-trafficking investigation in recent memory. Herb Walters said. The majority — if not all — of the sex workers reportedly were brought to the United States from China.
Five suspected sex workers were detained Friday, but then brought to a victim services unit in Fremont where social workers will try to determine whether any were being held against their will or forced into sex labor. Authorities began investigating the case after a resident of a San Ramon Road apartment complex complained to police in August that there were s of prostitution in the area.
The investigation, which included wiretapping and field surveillance, was launched by the san ramon police department and was run tly with the county district attorney's office and the fbi safe streets task force.
When detectives took a closer look, they were able to tie Ng and Yu to at least six suspected brothels around the Bay Area, as well as an illegal marijuana grow house in Alameda County, police said. According to a Dublin police search warrant obtained by this newspaper, undercover officers began posing as customers at suspected brothels in Dublin and San Mateo, and on several occasions paid women for sex services.
In each instance, undercover officers terminated the transaction and left, but ramon at least one occasion a woman there began performing a sex act on an undercover prostitution, court documents show. Officers said they also observed Ng and Yu coming and going from various suspected brothels, and at times interacted with them. Yu responded by taking out a cellphone and scrolling through several pictures of other women whom she said would be available san sex, according to street records.
After a debriefing at the Dublin police station, in which it was noted that Ng often carries a handgun, police caravans fanned out to six locations. They arrived at a residence, barked out orders in English and Cantonese to open the door, and then battered the door open with a ram when they got no response.
But after the scene was cleared, officers took the handcuffs off the woman and told her she was going to be treated like a victim, not a perpetrator. Authorities are still investigating the possibility that additional victims and suspects are out there.
Contact Dan Lawton at Follow him at Twitter.
Contact Nate Gartrell at News Crime and Public Safety. Bay Area suburban sex trafficking ring busted, police say. Share this: Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to this to a friend Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window. Show Caption.
By Nate Gartrell ngartrell bayareanewsgroup. Report an error Policies and Standards.
More in News. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by.