Dallas brothel owner pleads guilty to prostitution racketeering charge, faces 5 years

A woman accused of peddling other women for sex pleaded guilty to a prostitution racketeering charge on Thursday.

Helen Kim, 59, was arrested in November after a sting operation at a Dallas hotel liberated a number of foreign-born commercial sex workers. Kim is facing a maximum of five years in prison, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Kim pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce in the aid of a racketeering enterprise involving prostitution.

“I am proud that our law enforcement partners poured significant resources into this sting operation in order to liberate the numerous women that Ms. Kim sold for sex,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a press release. “We were determined to hold her accountable for her willingness to demean other women for financial gain.”

Kim, who owned two brothels with Dallas addresses — one named Pink One and the other called Illusion Spa — confessed to law enforcement that she would supply between 20 to 25 women who would have sex with a group of businessmen partying at a hotel.

The businessmen were undercover officers from the the Dallas Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Homeland Security. About 50 officers posed as businessmen at a hotel bar and in rooms upstairs on Nov. 1.

The Girlfriend Experience

According to an indictment returned in November, Kim and her 36-year-old son negotiated private sexual liaisons for businessmen ready to pay for sex with 20 to 25 women at a rate of $2,000 each, for a total of at least $40,000.

In her plea papers, Kim admitted that she employed more than 10 commercial sex workers at her two brothels. Many of the women lived at the establishments so they could attend to clients day and night, Kim confessed.

The mother and son team promised the “girlfriend experience,” and even allowed an undercover detective to meet several of the women at a local sushi bar. The officers would discuss buying girls for sex from Daniel Mendoza Jr. and his mother, Kim, the release said.

According to a complaint filed Oct. 30, an undercover informant met with Mendoza on Sept. 14 at Drafthouse, 1850 Market Place Blvd. in Irving, to discuss purchasing about 18 to 20 girls for a night.

During that first meeting, the informant and Mendoza talked about possible price ranges and the number of girls that the informant wanted to order, the court document says. They met again on Sept. 20 to finalize plans: The informant would get 20 girls for about four hours for multiple men.

During a meeting at a Starbucks, Kim accepted an initial payment of $5,000, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. Kim insisted the men should not talk publicly about the affair.

“The way this is set up,” Kim’s son allegedly said to the undercover officer, “it could be considered human trafficking.”

After police arrested Kim and Mendoza, several of the women were taken to Mosaic House, a local shelter for women fleeing human trafficking. Many had been living at Kim’s brothels, according to the Department of Justice press release.

Both Mendoza and Kim were arrested and charged with using a facility for interstate commerce to promote a business enterprise for prostitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Raybould and Cara Foos Pierce are prosecuting the case.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.