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Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 | 10:41 p.m.
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Posted: 10:12 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, 2013
KTVU.com and wires
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. —
State agents removed evidence Tuesday night from a suspected brothel on the Peninsula during what was described as a major bust of a sex trafficking ring.
KTVU was there as investigators served a search warrant at an apartment on McLellan Drive in South San Francisco.
The apartment may be part of a much larger sex trafficking operation with ties to the East Coast and China.
A team of five agents descended on the small first floor apartment going over every inch of the unit.
Agents with the State Department of Justice carried away brown bags with potential evidence in connection with a sophisticated multi-state prostitution ring.
"They were keeping these women basically against their will. They were prostituting these young women," said San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.
Investigators said a husband-and-wife team ran the brothel from the unassuming apartment right across the street from the South San Francisco BART station.
Authorities said the two had previously pimped prostitutes out of a unit in San Bruno near the Tanforan Mall.
Neighbor Katherine Harms said there had long been rumors.
"They've been known to have prostitutes over there. It doesn't surprise me that they've been busted again," Harms said.
A five-month investigation first led authorities to the brothel last week where they arrested 49-year-old Zhi Liu.
"He was a major player," said Guidotti.
But his wife Wie Guo has alluded authorities so far.
Officials said the two rotated young women from Boston, New York and China, in and out of other brothels every ten days.
Some neighbors said they were shocked.
"It's just so close to home," said Arsenio Eligio of South San Francisco. "You think that this only happens in our next neighbor state Nevada, but it's here."
In Sacramento County, investigators said they believe three suspected brothel operators busted there worked with Liu and his wife and had an organized schedule of the women coming and going.
The bust is being hailed as big step in dismantling sex-trafficking networks in California.
"In a case such as this, where you are literally freeing women from captivity, it's significant," said Guidotti.
Liu is being held on $200,000 bail and is due in court Wednesday.
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