An accused Chinatown crime boss has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for his admitted involvement in criminal activity that included prostitution, drug trafficking, and money laundering, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced.
Cambridge resident Wei Xing Chen, 52, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to induce travel for the purpose of prostitution; money-laundering; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, and benzylpiperazine, or BZP — both also called ecstasy; and possession with intent to distribute BZP, the US Attorney said in a statement.
Chen was sentenced by US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton on Tuesday to 70 months in prison and two subsequent years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and forfeiture of his Mercedes and $8,000 in cash, Ortiz said.
“The United States government is determined to stop the movement of women across state lines for prostitution,” Ortiz said in the statement. “The brothel business is a blight on our communities and harmful to the women employed there and must stop. I encourage any other victims to come forward.”
A co-defendant in the case, Xiahong Xue, pleaded guilty last November to involvement in the prostitution ring and was sentenced to two years of probation, which included six months of home detention, Ortiz said.
Chen and Xue were among 26 people indicted in 2011 after a long-term FBI investigation of organized crime in Chinatown that resulted in the seizure of 13 guns, $340,000, about 13,000 suspected oxycodone pills, and “extensive evidence’’ of illegal gambling and prostitution, FBI agent Thomas Conboy said in a sworn statement released in July 2011.
Ortiz said Chen — who also allegedly used the names Ah-Hung, Lo Biu, and Lo Gai — worked with his co-conspirators between January 2009 and June 2011 to draw women, most of them Asian, to Massachusetts to work as prostitutes in brothels in Cambridge and Allston.
Chen and his co-conspirators arranged the women’s travel from New York and other locations to the Bay State, where most arrived at Logan Airport or South Station and were then taken to the brothels, Ortiz said.
Ortiz said Chen also told his criminal associates to place newspaper advertisements offering prostitution and other services and conspired to launder $100,000 collected from the brothels by hiding the money in a safe deposit box.
Chen also conspired to sell ecstasy in New York and Massachusetts, Ortiz said, and was part of a group that sold about 2,400 pills to an FBI cooperating witness in September 2008.
Chen’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.