Super Bowl Bust: Agents bust sex ring in building shared with TKC student housing
New York, NEW YORK -- The much anticipated Super Bowl Boulevard opened Wednesday to begin four days of pre-game festivities. But the 14-block Boulevard was not the only game-related "activity" operating in Midtown Wednesday night. At around 8:45 p.m., residents at The Vogue apartment building (990 Ave. of the Americas) witnessed a police raid involving one of the sex trafficking rings capitalizing on the big game. The Empire State Tribune stood outside of the building with cameras ready as police descended from the seventh floor of The Vogue.
Several police officers, some not in uniform, escorted four women and one man out of the building at 9:56 p.m. Wednesday evening. According to ABC 7's Josh Einiger, who was standing by with EST reporters, detectives are currently trying to determine whether the women in question were working voluntarily as prostitutes or were victims of sex trafficking.
Ring leaders were also supplying large amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroine and ecstasy. They had been advertising online to fans in town for Sunday's game, ABC 7 reported.
Anna Kim (38), a resident in The Vogue, arrived at the building at around 9 p.m., just as the raid was beginning.
“I saw lot of people, a lot of police officers," Kim said. She also recalled that "police said it wasn't FBI... it was Immigration."
Witnesses recall seeing what appeared to be a "wanted" poster of the male suspect in question in the lobby of 990 Ave. of the Americas the days leading up to the bust.
A NYPD officer at the scene refused to comment. The Vogue doorman working at the time of the bust also refused to comment because he is an employee of the building.
Co-manager of The Vogue Richard Werner was unable to confirm or deny any details regarding the case, as building administrators are still awaiting information from the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) office.
King's student and Vogue resident Conny Rota ('17) described what she saw:
"I got home--I think it was around 8:30--and I just saw a bunch of cops coming out from their cars and going into The Vogue [as well as] a lot of people from the FBI," Rota said. "From what I understand...half of the charges were for immigration problems, and half supposedly for drugs."
Residents of The Vogue did not seem to be aware of the sexual exploitation that was allegedly taking place on the seventh floor.
"I was completely shocked to hear that a crime that heinous would go under the roof of student housing. We live in unusual circumstances for the traditional college student," King's student housing assistant at The Vogue Sophia Bachman ('16) said in an email, adding, "This calls into question the amount of security actually in place and whether a relocation to a new residence could be beneficial."
President Gregory Thornbury stated in an email that King's plans to "relocate out of The Vogue at the end of our current lease."
ABC 7 adds that the campaign was carried out by New York Attorney General's Office, the NYPD, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcements Divisions, and the Homeland Security Investigation Unit.
State attorney general Eric Schneiderman is scheduled to announce the takedown of the crime ring at his office in Lower Manhattan today at 11 a.m., The New York Times reports. Updates from the Tribune to follow.
The EST will keep you posted with further information regarding the case as information is made available. Stay tuned!