- New York Attorney General says alleged operation in Manhattan is broken up
- Official says ring "made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women"
- The agency is called Somad Enterprises; the firm could not be reached for comment
- Fifteen suspects arrested; authorities are searching for four more
Police on Tuesday busted a $7 million drug and prostitution ring that spanned three states, arresting 15 suspects and freeing two trafficking victims in Manhattan, according to the New York Attorney General.
After a 16-month investigation, authorities say they broke up the alleged operation at a midtown Manhattan advertising agency called Somad Enterprises Inc., which maintains offices in Queens, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Philippines.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the enterprise "made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women."
The charges range from money laundering and falsifying business records to narcotics sales and prostitution.
Authorities say they are still searching for four other suspects. A total of 19 suspects could each face up to 25 years in prison.
"All anyone has to do is open a copy of the Village Voice to get a good sense of how classified advertising and prostitution go hand in hand, particularly in the prostituting of Asian women," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, referring to a Manhattan newspaper.
Somad Enterprises allegedly put forth print and television advertisements to "knowingly and systematically promote prostitution." From January 2010 to October 2012, it is accused of shelling out more than $3 million in advertising to promote the illicit business, while closely managing everything from the bookers to the drivers.
Somad could not be immediately reach for comment.