DUBLIN — Two men are facing charges of allegedly operating a prostitution ring in two Dublin apartments and using their profits to go on extravagant shopping sprees in Las Vegas, court documents show.
Zheng Xu, 32, of Fremont and Qiwei Liu, 29, of Hayward are charged in Alameda County Superior Court with a string of crimes, including conspiracy, pimping and money laundering.
A Dublin police investigation located two female sex workers alleged to be victims of human trafficking, police said.
Although the cases against the men were filed in 2018 — and relate to alleged crimes committed in 2016 and 2017 — they had not come to trial. Both men pleaded not guilty in 2018, court records show. No reason was provided regarding why the case has moved so slowly through the court system. The men appeared in court last week, and the judge scheduled the next hearing for August.
The allegations stem from February 2017, when Dublin police received a complaint about possible prostitution activity in an apartment at the Sofi Apartments at 7100 San Ramon Road. According to a probable cause report written by a detective and filed in court, undercover investigators put the apartment under surveillance and “confirmed prostitution was occurring.”
The report said Liu leased the apartment and listed Xu as his emergency contact.
As police watched, the alleged brothel ceased operations. Liu paid the rent and moved a limited amount of furniture from the unit, the report said.
Liu then began visiting the Park Sierra Apartment complex at 6450 Dougherty Road in Dublin. Undercover officers browsed online prostitution advertisements and “were directed to” the complex, where they “confirmed crimes related to prostitution were occurring inside.”
While under surveillance, Liu, who had leased the apartment, was seen walking in and out with a woman. The police report said multiple men were seen entering and exiting the apartments Liu had rented.
Detectives served search warrants at the Park Sierra apartment and Liu’s Hayward home on May 24, 2017. Officers located the female victims and “evidence related to prostitution,” the report said.
A detective wrote in his report that he believed Liu rented apartments “for the sole purpose of procuring residences to operate brothels.”
Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint filed against the men that in addition to leasing the apartments and paying for utilities where the alleged prostitution crimes occurred, they allegedly laundered more than $362,000.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Offices suspects the men furnished the apartments, including the mattresses; provided condoms, food and shelter to the sex workers; and drove them to and from the apartment. In addition, Liu and Xu allegedly advertised the services on backpage.com, a website that was shut down by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service in 2018.
In addition to depositing and withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars into and from their own bank accounts, the men allegedly used their profits to “fund extravagant shopping sprees in Las Vegas” and purchase luxury items. They also made investments and acquired real estate, prosecutors charge.
Illegal proceeds were used to establish local and overseas Shell businesses, including Paxino, Yuman Kitchen and Jason Electronics, prosecutors allege.