Couple detained pending trial for sex-trafficking operation

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A federal magistrate judge has ordered a New Hampshire couple detained pending trial for a sex-trafficking operation involving Chinese nationals in northern New England.

An FBI agent testified Tuesday that 37-year-old Shou Chao Li ran a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the same time he and his wife, 37-year-old Derong Miao, engaged in sex trafficking.

Authorities say the scheme involved at least 27 women at locations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Peavey testified Miao recruited women from China. He said they were isolated and fearful of both law enforcement and their employers.

The judge granted a motion to detain the couple, citing concerns about possible witness tampering, the scale of the operation and risk of flight. The couple denies the charges.

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