Tricks and treats at Calypso Apartments and Lofts in Irvine.
Tricks and treats at Calypso Apartments and Lofts in Irvine.

Cops: Prostitution Ring Operated Out of Irvine "Boutique" Apartments

You know those tony "boutique apartments" rising to the clouds in the area of Jamboree Road and Alton Parkway in "Safest City in America" Irvine? Crime couldn't possibly be occurring in the heart of the Irvine Business District? Not a short stroll from the Diamond Jamboree shopping experience, right?


The Pasadena Star News reported Wednesday afternoon a husband and wife from Temple City are being held on $2 million bond, accused by authorities of operating a multi-million-dollar prostitution ring that shuffled up to 25 women in and out of upscale apartments in Pasadena and Irvine.

Sean Emery over at the Orange County Register followed that up with a report that revealed  a two-bedroom unit at the Calypso Apartments and Lofts in Irvine was allegedly used by the ring.

Owned by Shea Properties, the 177-unit Calypso has studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments and lofts with square footages ranging from 605 to 1,448 square feet and rents of $1,505 to $2,280 a month.

"Dance to the Caribbean beat at Calypso, a tropical retreat," proclaimed an online ad for "This boutique oasis in the center of Irvine" with "a hip vibe that is evident poolside. . . . Returning home you'll feel the positive vibrations of the rich maple wood cabinetry, granite counters, and stainless steel appliances."

A different kind of dancing and vibrating was also taking place at the Calypso, according to a two-year Pasadena Police Department investigation, which began with an anonymous tip about a call-girl service consisting of Asian women.

Li Chen, 32, and her husband Thanh Ly, 35, allegedly used Internet Web sites--including advertise for massages, escorts and erotic services. The girls and their johns apparently got together at the Calypso, the Trio Apartments at Colorado Boulevard and El Molino Avenue in Pasadena (which visitors must enter with a security code) and the nearby Archstone apartment building at Colorado and Oak Knoll Avenue.

The couple was booked on suspicion of pimping and pandering in December, and they have already pleaded not guilty. Four women between 21 and 40 years old were arrested on suspicion of prostitution and released after being issued misdemeanor citations. Dozens of other women are believed to have been involved in the prostitution ring.

The Star News reported that Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials were initially asked to join the investigation because police feared human trafficking or smuggling could be involved, but that no longer appears to be the case. Chen and the alleged prostitutes are all U.S. citizens. Ly is not a citizen but in the country legally. For now.


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