A Queens man who allegedly ran a sex-trafficking ring out of East New York was arrested Tuesday and faces up to life in prison, federal authorities said.
Douglas Welch, 40, also known as “Paradise,” is accused of forcing young women to engage in prostitution along a desolate stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn known as the Penn Track. The area where Welch allegedly operated is well known for being an open-air sex market where barely dressed women meet men and then go to nearby hotels and cars for sex.
Welch has been charged in Brooklyn federal court with sex trafficking by force, sex trafficking conspiracy, interstate prostitution, and promotion of prostitution, according to authorities.
He has been accused of forcing his victims to engage in sex and taking most of their earning, according to authorities. He allegedly got them to work by threatening them with violence. For instance, he struck one woman in the head with a baseball bat for failing to engage in prostitution, according to court records, while he punched three teeth out of another woman’s mouth when he got angry. He was caught boasting about these attacks to friends he was visiting in prison.
“As alleged, Welch has trafficked multiple women for his own financial benefit while boasting about the cruel and brutal violence he has inflicted on the vulnerable victims,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement Tuesday. “Running a brazen, open-air commercial sex market in East New York or anywhere else in our district is unacceptable, dangerous to our communities, and especially harmful to women caught in this terrible cycle of abuse. Today’s indictment will hold the defendant accountable in a federal courtroom for his exploitative crimes.”
According to court documents, between the summer of 2021 and January 2023, he recruited women to work on his behalf along the Penn Track. He threatened them with violence if they disobeyed his orders, telling one victim, “if you f*** with the pimping, I’, gonna crack your head” and threatening “to slap the s***” out of another victim for not listening to him.
Welch, according to the criminal complaint, was recorded telling an inmate in February 2022 how the prostitution business worked for pimps. He was recording saying that all he needs is “one bitch” and “you’re making $1,500 a night,” adding that you “give her $100….I’m not giving a bitch half.”
Officials view the arrest as a step toward protecting the victims of sex trafficking.
“Today’s charges further affirm our unwavering commitment to protect the survivors of sex trafficking,” said NYPD Commission Edward A. Caban. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the NYPD will continue to ensure that anyone seeking to profit through the abuse and exploitation of another human being is identified, investigated and indicted.”