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Bellevue doctor accused in international sex trafficking ring

Overlake Medical Center says an anesthesiologist linked to a widespread prostitution and sex trafficking operation is no longer practicing at the hospital and has taken a voluntary leave of absence.

Court documents obtained by the Seattlepi.com say the Bellevue doctor is suspected of working with his girlfriend to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars through his bank accounts to cover his girlfriend's prostitution ring.

The Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation in November 2012, and found the doctor was depositing large sums of cash into ATMs in Bellevue, according to the documents.

Investigators looking into the accounts found numerous payments totaling nearly $11,000 to Backpage.com, a website best known for allowing sex workers to advertise their services.

The doctor is believed to have paid for 116 ads between May 2012 and November 2013. All of them showed lingerie-clad Asian women offering sex for money.

There's no indication of what might have motivated the doctor to take part in the operation. The court documents say he earned upwards of $45,000 a month practicing medicine, and used his primary checking account to pay his personal expenses.

Additional money funneled through a separate account to pay rent for upscale apartments and the Backpage ads.

The DEA says the King County Sheriff's Office conducted a series of stings targeting some women advertised by the doctor. Detectives reportedly identified at least six women working as prostitutes connected to the doctor.

Investigators allege the doctor's girlfriend had as many as 10 women working for her, and sent large sums of money to a sex trafficker in Thailand, who coordinated the transport of the women to the United States.

The doctor is identified in court documents as a University of Washington medical school graduate. MyNorthwest.com is not naming him because he has not been charged. He has not been disciplined by the Washington state Department of Health, which regulates medical professionals.

The matter is pending in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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