Oct. 20--A 54-year-old man from Korea is held pending court hearings on a federal complaint he harbored an illegal immigrant for immoral purposes while operating an illegal escort service in Biloxi.
The sworn statement of a Homeland Security Investigations agent said the investigation has found evidence "indicative of human trafficking and/or prostitution" and alleges Moonseop Kim was operating an escort service from a Biloxi home and arranging for clients to meet women at Coast hotels.
Biloxi police had arrested Kim and a 26-year-old woman, also from Korea, Sept. 30 on prostitution charges.
The HSI agent's statement said their arrests came after an undercover police officer obtained a phone number from a website and made arrangements to pay $300 to hire a woman as a sexual escort.
The officer went to meet the woman at a hotel on Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi on Sept. 30. The criminal complaint said Kim was driving a red Saturn when he dropped the woman off at the hotel, and police arrested him as he walked to a nearby restaurant. Police reported a search of the car turned up condoms, a GPS and hand-drawn map of Biloxi with markings denoting locations of hotels.
The car also contained a piece of paper that led police to a home Kim had rented in the 100 block of Azalea Drive in Biloxi.
The woman told investigators she worked for Kim three weeks at a time and was off a week, and received $120 per escort, half the amount of the service's advertised charge, court papers show.
Investigators who searched the home Oct. 1 reported it appeared to be set up as "a place to harbor and/or house numerous people." The woman's room, furnished with twin beds, had few or no personal items but it had plastic drawers containing condoms, false eyelashes and other items.
Authorities also said they found cigarette lighters with stickers advertising the escort service phone number and receipts for services that cost $300.
The front rooms of the home were set up like a business with a lobby and an office, and maps were taped to the walls with notes about the locations of Coast casinos.
The white, wood-frame home has dusty-pink doors and shutters and red awnings. A neighbor said she often saw young women coming and going from the house, walking or taking a taxi. She said they were nicely dressed.
Kim has been in custody since his arrest. He pleaded guilty Oct. 17 in Biloxi Municipal Court to conspiracy to commit prostitution. He was transferred from the county jail Friday to the custody of federal marshals, who took him to U.S. District Court for a hearing.
Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker set Thursday as the date for Kim's preliminary hearing and detention hearing. Walker asked for a Korean interpreter to attend.
The woman arrested with him remains in custody, but federal court records do not show she has been accused of a federal crime.
Biloxi regulates escort services, but no businesses currently have an escort service license. The case is the third federal prosecution in Gulfport of anti-human trafficking arrests that began with Biloxi police investigations.
John Fitzhugh, Sun Herald photo journalist, contributed to this news report.
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