American authorities have uncovered a prostitution and trafficking racket in Chicago, Illinois, involving young actresses from the Telugu and Kannada film industries.
According to a Times of India report, five actresses fell victim as they were told they would be brought to the U.S. to perform at various events but were instead forced into prostitution by a small-time Tollywood production manager couple Kishan Modugumudi, also known as Sreeraj Chennupati and Chandrakala Purnima Modugumudi, also known as Vebha Jayam.
Both are natives of Hyderabad, India and were illegally living in the U.S., they were arrested on April 28, 2018 in Washington after a Homeland Security Investigation led to filing a criminal complaint in an Illinois court.
According to the complaint, between May 11, 2017 and January 22, 2018, the couple purchased airline tickets and booked hotel rooms for the victims and kept them at either their home in Chicago or hotel rooms across the country.
“The couple reportedly lured young actresses from Tollywood to the US on the pretext of events but instead advertised them for sex work across the country,” the complaint said.
“The duo then booked air tickets for these actresses and housed them in hotels and dingy apartments and reportedly charged their clients about $3,000 for each actress,” the complaint continued.
“The accused would take the victims to Telugu and other Indian conferences held across the US to identify potential customers who would pay them to engage in commercial sex,” the complaint added.
The couple was accused after U.S. border patrol conducted a search, finding documents, credit cards and a handwritten note on Marriott Hotel stationery in which the name of a Telugu film star was written on along with ‘Washington DC,’ “January 19 morning,” “Room Number 2018 ‘two times,’” and “Room No. 404 ‘one time.’”
The raids were conducted on February 16, 2018, when law enforcement recovered 70 condoms, divided into multiple ziplock bags and fake permanent resident and security cards in the name of Kishan.A letter written by the America Telugu Association (ATA) to the U.S. Consul General at Hyderabad requesting visa for specific individuals as well as a copy of the appoinment letter for B1-B2 visa of the U.S. Consulate were also found.
According to an International Business Times report, the couple reportedly knew details of the victims including which sexual acts they performed and the exact amount of money that was paid and received and also threatened the victims, warning them not to contact the police, further stating that they “had a copy of her passport with her family’s name and address in it.”
According to a court document, one victim told police that she had come to the U.S. to attend the Telugu Association of Southern California (TAS) star night event in California on November 8, 2017, however, arrived two days later and went to Chicago to attend another conference.
Police also found emails and text messages with images of the actresses that were exchanged between the couple and the victims as well as their customers.