Even as Tollywood is reeling under the revelations of how casting couch is prevalent in the industry, here comes another shocker. The US authorities have uncovered an elaborate prostitution racket in Chicago, Illinois, involving young actresses from the Telugu film industry.
About five people from the Telugu and Kannada film industry have been identified as victims of the racket.
The authorities have also arrested an Indian-origin couple, who was reportedly running this sex racket and would often lure young actresses to Chicago under the pretext of performance in events and push them into sex work. The couple has been identified as Kishan Modugumudi and his wife Chandra, both natives of Hyderabad and illegally living in Chicago.
The duo was arrested in Washington on April 28 and the federal agents of Homeland Security Investigations have filed a 42-page criminal complaint against them, reported the Times of India. They haven't been able to get a bail yet and the two children of the couple have been shifted to a child welfare centre.
How the racket functioned
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 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 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," TOI quoted the complaint.
Investigation throw up disturbing details
An investigation has been launched into the case and the team probing the matter has seized hotel and travel records of the actresses and also has the statements of the victims and customers, who have admitted that they had sexual encounters with these actresses in exchange of money paid to the couple.
The officials also raided several hotels and in one of the hotels that Modugumudi and Chandra had stayed, the investigators stumbled upon important clues such as credit cards, travel documents and handwritten notes.
One such note reportedly read "Washington DC," "January 19 morning," "Room Number 2018," "two times." Another note said, "Room No. 404 one time."
The couple seemed to keep a detailed account of all the clients and victims and Chandra reportedly also made note of the sexual acts performed by each actor and the exact amount of money paid and received.
If that wasn't enough, the couple also threatened the victims and warned them against approaching the police. Modugumudi told one of the victims that "it would be nothing for him to harm her if she talked to the police about him because she is small and unknown, not a big actress," the complaint said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "(He) further stated he had a copy of her passport with her family's name and address in it."
As part of the investigation, the agents also searched the couple's email accounts and found several emails exchanged between the duo and the victims. The complaint said that the above-mentioned victim has also begged the Modugumudi to stop harassing her.
"Please do not call me and don't try to contact me," the woman allegedly wrote. "It was very unpleasant doing business with you and I don't want to do any business with you now or in future. If you try contacting me again, I'll have to make formal complaint."
The authorities also found several text messages on Chandra's phone, in which she is seen negotiating the deal with potential customers and even sending them pictures of the actresses.