The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Russia to LA Prostitution Ring Busted; Husband, Wife Arrested

A Los Angeles man, his wife, and his ex-wife are all alleged to have been the ringleaders of an international prostitution ring, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. The husband and wife, Mher "Mike" Hakopyan, 38, and Natalya Murayyeva, 31, are in custody and being held without bail. The ex-wife, Alla Kassianova, 43, is believed to have fled the country.

The couple allegedly recruited 14 women from Eastern Europe, coached them on the immigration process, paid for their airfare to the U.S., and provided them with housing once they arrived. They would then place their photos on Internet sites promoting prostitution.

The operation was discovered in September 2011, when two suspicious Latvian women were detained at LAX. The two women’s stories differed, making the immigration officials suspicious. It was discovered that their flight arrangements were booked by Hakopyan. On Monday, agents searched a Los Angeles home and two apartments while the happy couple was being charged.

The question that is probably on everyone’s minds is probably, how did a man manage to run a business with his wife and his ex-wife? Now that’s a collaborative divorce, right? Of course, if the ex, Alla Kassianova, was responsible for recruiting in Europe, that would make things significantly less complicated.

The trio was arraigned in Federal court on Monday. According to the Los Angeles Times, the duo currently in custody faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the current charges.

They could be indicted on a number of state and federal charges related to the prostitution, pimping, and pandering. If it turns out that the duo held the prostitutes against their will as indentured servants, sex trafficking charges are also a possibility. The latter charges would carry much more severe penalties, especially if any of the women were minors.

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