Prostitution suspect held on immigration charges

Saturday, September 15, 2007 | 5:55 p.m. CDT; updated 9:09 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A Chinese woman arrested on suspicion of promoting prostitution out of the back of a convenience store on U.S. 40 is being held on federal immigration charges, Boone County sheriff’s deputies said Saturday.

Xue Lan Bian is suspected of running a one-person prostitution operation out of a room in the back of a convenience store located in the Midway Travel Plaza, Boone County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stubbs said.

Xue , 52, formerly of Torrance, Calif., lived in a nearby motel and is a Chinese citizen whose Visa has expired, Stubbs said.

Sheriff’s deputies searched A.M. Chinese Relaxation Treatment, 6401 Highway 40 W., at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday and arrested Xue on suspicion of third-degree promoting prostitution.

Stubbs said the business opened Aug. 1 and that investigators received an anonymous tip about two weeks later regarding prostitution going on around the convenience store and motel.

“Right after it opened, we got the complaint,” Stubbs said. “She was just operating out of rented-out space.”

City and county law enforcement agencies generally investigate prostitution on a case-by-case basis, Stubbs said.

But Xue’s arrest is the latest in a series of prostitution-related investigations that have been started in response to citizen complaints.

Yang Hee Yoon, the 58-year-old owner of Fuji Sauna, 1904 Waverly Court, was arrested on New Year’s Day on suspicion of second-degree promoting prostituion. An employee and a customer were also arrested.

Yoon has pleaded not guilty and has a jury trial scheduled for Oct. 3.

Three workers at Lynn’s Massage, 3215 N. Range Line St., including 58-year-old owner Karon Lynn Rowe, were arrested on prostitution charges in December.

Rowe pleaded guilty to third-degree promoting prostitution and was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation.

And the owners of VIP Sauna — Okhee Kim and her husband Semsettin “Sam” Gogebakan — along with several employees were arrested in December on prostitution charges.

Kim, 46, of Baltimore, Md., and Gogebakan, 47, of Catousville, Md., both pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution and were sentenced to five years of supervised probation each.

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