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The doors of the storefront that employed the women were always locked, she said, and the women seemed to be there at odd hours. Those doubts were confirmed when police raided the storefront in June.


Donna Hughes, professor of women's studies at the University of Rhode Island and an analyst on sex trafficking, said that documenting the trafficking of women is difficult because of language barriers and the women's reluctance to talk, for fear of retribution. But what lingers is dismay and disbelief that big-city vice apparently found its way here. Or Lisbon, a town of 9, residents 22 miles south of Augusta, where the last arrest on prostitution charges was too long ago for David Brooks, the police chief for the past 24 years, to remember when it happened.

In such venues, some local police investigators say, the sex trade flourishes, populated by women who work as prostitutes to pay fees to the smugglers who secured their entry into the country. No of the business remains in the empty storefront in the beige, shingled mall. The woman, who is not named in the indictment, said massave massage included ''a cleansing shower" and, if requested, ''sexual acts, i.

Federal authorities say they do not yet have evidence of human trafficking: fraud or coercion leading to forced labor, such as prostitution. In Maine, four women were charged in June with illegal immigration and one with federal prostitution charges.

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The organizations, authorities say, are branching into New England to operate businesses that often go unnoticed in the setting of a strip mall. Kim's attorney, Neal Stillman, said he had not read the indictment and could not discuss the specifics of the prostitufion. Officers found an undressed woman atop a naked man and another partially dressed woman in a massage room with a nude man, according to an indictment filed in federal oprtland in Portland.

Police observed the center for six months before the June raid. Investigations are ongoing in Maine and Vermont, said Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that oversees federal investigations into human trafficking and smuggling.

Instead, she broke contact and took up residence in Lisbon in January She was arrested in New Jersey in on prostitution charges stemming from her work at a brothel that was being investigated for illegal smuggling of foreigners, the court records show. Authorities protitution the women worked in establishments advertised as massage parlors -- in the case in Lisbon, the ''Asia Accupressure Therapy Center" -- that are, in fact, fronts for elaborate prostitution rings run from New York and other large cities.

Around town, revelations about the center initially provoked titters and bad jokes.

Those doubts were confirmed when police raided the storefront in June. They are told their family back home will be tortured.

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Law enforcement officials say the Koreans were part of a syndicate that ensnares women who are desperate for residence in the United States and willing to prostitute themselves. Many then opt to flee the country, often to the United States, with the help of traffickers who lure them into the sex trade.

In Vermont, eight women were detained last month on suspicion of illegal immigration. Local police say prostitution rings are expanding from their urban bases into such small communities as Essex, Bustrd.

One woman was discovered sleeping in a small massage room used as a bedroom, the indictment said. The doors of massaage storefront that employed the women were always locked, she said, and the women seemed to be there at odd hours.

When the relationships break off, Hughes said, the women often find themselves estranged from family and without resources. Deportation proceedings were initiated against Kim, but she was released on condition that she stay in contact with immigration authorities.

The manager of the operation, according to the affidavit, was Doo Ri Kim,

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