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Feds building sex trafficking case against Bellevue anesthesiologist
The Drug Enforcement Administration is building a case against a Bellevue anesthesiologist alleged to have secured rental units throughout the city and laundered money internationally to aid his Thai girlfriend's sex trafficking enterprise here.
In an affidavit filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office for search warrants to seize electronics, documents and bank accounts belonging to the anesthesiologist, which the Reporter won't name until charges are filed, the DEA claims the doctor provided apartments and condos in Bellevue for sex workers trafficked to the United States from Thailand by his girlfriend. He is also alleged to have collected those illegal profits, transferring them to Thai bank accounts.
The DEA began investigating the doctor in November 2012, when the agency became aware of large deposits of money he had been depositing into Bellevue ATMs. Bank records showed the doctor purchased multiple online ads through sites like backpage.com to advertise his girlfriend's prostitutes living in the city and available for massages and sexual services, according to the affidavit filed July 18.
The DEA allegedly found the doctor was using a Bellevue Way BECU ATM to deposit large sums of cash, which were then transferred to a Thai bank account held by his girlfriend, whom cooperating witnesses involved in prostitution activities in the city claim runs a sex trafficking agency here.
"CW2 stated that (the girlfriend) worked with a sex trafficking 'agency' in Thailand who arranged for (her) to travel to the United States on a fake visa," according to the affidavit, adding the girlfriend told the witness before meeting the doctor she was seeking an American to finance her desired opulent lifestyle.
Undercover operations were conducted from June to December 2013, where detectives posing as Johns made appointments with several prostitutes found on backpage.com and connected to bank accounts and phone numbers belonging to the doctor, the affidavit states. These operations took place at apartment and condo units at the Avalon Meydenbauer apartments and AMLI Apartments at Bellevue Park, with the Washington Square condominiums also allegedly being rented out for prostitution activity.
The King County Sheriff's Office conducted surveillance at the Avalon, where the doctor was allegedly recorded in front of the nearby Safeway accepting a white envelope from an Asian woman. The envelope was reportedly similar to those undercover agents witnessed prostitutes using to collect money for massages and sexual services. This and another documented transaction involved photo surveillance.
"CW1 stated that she was surprised to see (the doctor) in the photographs as she did not know that he was involved in any of (his girlfriend's) illegal activities," according to the affidavit. "However, CW1 stated that (his girlfriend) tended to be very secretive regarding her sex trafficking business."
One witness, cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office and awaiting sentencing for conspiracy to transport individuals and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, allegedly told investigators the doctor's girlfriend returned to Thailand to work for the same sex traffickers that brought her to the United States. The girlfriend returned to Bellevue with a handful of Thai women to be used in her sex trafficking enterprise. By 2013, the witness reported the doctor's girlfriend had 10 sex workers in her employ.
Outgoing funds from the doctor's BECU account catalogued by the DEA allegedly totaled $471,388, which the DEA states in the affidavit went to his girlfriend's Thai bank account, as well as to pay rents and purchase ads on sites like backpage.com. Several of those ads were allegedly linked to IP addresses for Proliance Surgeons in Seattle and Overlake Hospital, where he worked for Matrix Anesthesia, according to the affidavit. The doctor has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the provider and no longer practices at the hospital.