Omar Rodríguez Ortiz, Devoun Cetoute
A Miami Beach doctor-in-training thought he was in the process of buying a 12-year-old girl from a human trafficker to keep locked in his home to have sex with and keep under his control, authorities say. He was actually speaking with an FBI agent.
Alan Li is facing charges of attempted sex trafficking of a minor younger than 14 and attempted coercion of a minor. The 26-year-old is being held Thursday night at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
Li was listed as a resident, or a doctor-in-training, on Mount Sinai Medical Center’s website, NBC4 Ohio reported.
His illegal journey to trying to buy a child began in March, when he reached out to an escort he knew from Ohio, according to court documents. He knew she was trafficked, so he wanted her to help his “friend” meet young girls — ideally 8 to 15.
But there was no friend, federal authorities said. Li wanted the child for himself and used a fake account using the name Michael Chen to get her.
The escort alerted the National Human Trafficking Hotline, suspecting correctly that Li and Chen were the same person, as documents show that she had met Li on an escort site more than year before.
She also told Mount Sinai about her talks with Li to find a young girl. The Miami Beach hospital did not immediately respond for comment.
Mount Sinai told NBC 6 earlier this week that its top priority is the safety of its patients, visitors and employees.
“The individual is no longer employed with the medical center,” its statement read. “Mount Sinai Medical Center cannot comment further on matters regarding ongoing investigations and legal proceedings.”
This is when the FBI stepped into the ring, after being told of Li’s desires by the hospital and the trafficking hotline, authorities said.
An FBI agent assumed the role of a human trafficker after Li followed-up with the woman on how to get in contact with one.
Over Snapchat, Li introduced the agent to his “friend” Chen. After switching to the fake account, Li and the agent began to go over details on the type of girl he wanted and what he was going to do with her, documents read.
The pair landed on spending $500 to have one hour with a 12-year-old for sex and the possibility of selling the child for $20k to Li so he could permanently keep her in his home and use.
The agent prodded him on how he would keep the child “quiet and unseen.”
Li responded, “Ya I mean I’ll keep everything locked up…. Under my control she is.”
He even told the agent that he had a 13-year-old live with him and engage in sexual acts with the victim, documents read.
Li setup two separate meetings with the undercover agent but canceled.
“That Li canceled his scheduled meetings with the undercover agent does not mean he did not take a substantial step in furtherance of the commission of the underlying crimes,” Judge Lisette M. Reid of the United District Court in Southern Florida wrote in an order remanding him into custody.
After not being able to agree on a time or how to pay, the two eventually stopped talking without exchanging money.
Li did reach back out to the escort and said he was worried about trusting the trafficker.
The FBI believed that Li’s conversations were enough to charge him. However, Li’s defense attorney says otherwise.
“The government jumped the gun on this one,” George Thomas Pallas, Li’s defense attorney told the Herald.
He believes that federal authorities do not have a strong case against his client.
“Despite the graphic online exchanges, there is no evidence that Li ever intended to follow through on any of these discussions,” he said. “He never sent money despite the government’s repeated requests. And he failed to show up, repeatedly, to meetings initiated and scheduled by the federal agents trying to ensnare him.”
Li’s arraignment is set for Friday morning in Miami.