Bellevue police have arrested a 36-year-old woman accused of promoting prostitution at an upscale Bellevue brothel, police reported Tuesday, July 30. The brothel was located in the 300 block of 108th Avenue Northeast, in an apartment complex in downtown Bellevue.
Detectives said the arrested woman had $5,100 in her wallet, the profits of prostitution, and was allegedly transporting money and picking up condoms to take to another brothel location.
Bellevue investigators found the brothel after they answered an online ad, said Meeghan Black, BPD spokesperson. There they came in contact with a woman who told police she was a victim of human trafficking and forced to work against her will.
The victim was here from China, on a temporary VISA, and was in need of work when she enlisted through WeChat, a social media site, to perform massages for clients, Black said. These massages ultimately turned into prostitution.
When the woman later attempted to leave, she wasn’t allowed, and was told she needed to find her own replacement before she could. The woman would see about 10 to 15 clients and brought in about $2,000 a day.
“She didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language,” Black said. “She was afraid and she sought help.”
Detectives believe the incident could be part of a larger investigation, one linking to operations in other cities. Black said in human trafficking situations, woman are often flown around the U.S. to spend time in one location, before being shipped out to another place. They’re not allowed to leave and typically keep less than 20 percent of the money they earn. They’re often charged for renting the room, for food and condoms.
“Even if they [get into] the situation of their own free will, at some point they’re tired of it,” Black said. “They’re told it’ll be one or two clients a day, maybe three, and it ends up being 10 to 15 and they want to leave.”
There are more of these brothels operating within Bellevue city limits, detectives said, and they want people to pay attention. If people see a large volume of men coming in and out of a single residence in one day, it should be reported to management or police.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human sex or labor trafficking, contact Bellevue Police at ViceHT@bellevuewa.gov. Tips can also be submitted to this email.