A man and his son, both from Allentown, dispatched prostitutes to New York City, where livery cab drivers helped the women find customers, prosecutors said Monday.
Six drivers were awaiting arraignment Monday on promoting prostitution charges in an unusually broad sex-trafficking case.
The Manhattan district attorney's office said the case is expected to include charges against not only the alleged ringleaders and driver-recruiters but also some accused customers.
The father and son are being held without bail. Vincent George Sr., 55, and Vincent George Jr., 33, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to sex trafficking and other charges.
The prostitutes grossed as much as $500,000 a year apiece for the men, but the women got only a few dollars a night to buy food and other necessities, prosecutors said.
"These women really are in an indentured situation," District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said. "... Prostitution, I think more than people want to realize, involves men and women who are themselves in business, and kept there, because of coercion."
The women commuted to Manhattan nightly to work, carrying cards that said they were "professional masseuses." They were proprietarily tattooed with their pimps' nicknames - and in at least one case, a bar code - in a form of branding that's somewhat common, prosecutors said.