(WHTM) – Two York County residents have been charged in connection to what the Department of Justice is calling an “extensive prostitution enterprise” involving hundreds of individuals, some of whom are suspected of being victims of human trafficking.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, four people were indicted on charges related to an alleged prostitution enterprise called XO Companions, or XOC, after a years-long investigation.
The four defendants were identified by the Department of Justice as Anton Panin of Hollywood, Florida, Jennie Lawson, of Dillsburg, Tracey Lawson, of Thomasville, Pennsylvania, and Viktoriia Zakirova, of Miami, Florida.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment charges them with “conspiring to transport women in interstate and foreign commerce with intent that the women engage in prostitution and conspiring to persuade women to travel to engage in prostitution.”
The indictment also charges Panin and the Lawsons with money laundering.
According to the Department of Justice, Panin and Zakirova allegedly recruited women in Russia and other Eastern European countries to travel to the United States to work as prostitutes in major cities. Workers would allegedly send cash to the Lawsons, who then allegedly sent money to Panin in Florida.
Additionally, the Department of Justice alleges the enterprise had a password-protected website where clients could view schedules and services, reserve time, and provide reviews.
“The indictment in this case has dismantled an extensive and long-running commercial sex enterprise that exploited countless women and repeatedly violated U.S. laws,” said U.S. Attorney Karam. “We commend the law enforcement agents who coordinated across multiple agencies and worked tirelessly in the investigation that led to these charges.”
“As the lead agency in this investigation, the Diplomatic Security Service demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the integrity of U.S. travel documents and the rights of visitors to the United States,” said the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Andrew Wroblewski. “Our strong relationship with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania continues to be essential in pursuing those who profit from exploiting U.S. visa systems.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security
Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal
Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlo D. Marchioli is
prosecuting the case.
The maximum penalty under federal law is five years of imprisonment for prostitution-related conspiracy and 20 years of imprisonment for money laundering, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.
If you believe you are a victim in this case, please contact Homeland Security Investigations at 866-347-2423 or SexTrafficking_Outreach@hsi.dhs.gov