The man busted for operating two brothels in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park was charged in federal court Friday with transporting women across state lines to engage in prostitution.

From February to December, Liqing Liu ran an illegal sex business in south and north Minneapolis and Bloomington before moving to the current locations, according to police who visited undercover and interviewed witnesses as they left the buildings.

The St. Louis Park location was an apartment at 4755 Park Commons Dr., and the Minneapolis location was a massage business at 515 E. Lake St.

According to the criminal complaint:

In November, Liu was seen leaving the St. Louis Park business with a woman who later was identified as an illegal immigrant from South Korea. He dropped her off at the St. Paul-Minneapolis Airport, where police took her into custody.

She told officers she paid somebody $5,000 to smuggle her into the U.S. from Canada. She said she turned to prostitution to support herself.

Liu booked her air travel and then deducted prostitution wages to pay it back. She lived at the St. Louis Park location and turned over to Liu the $80 fee for her services. She could make additional money negotiating behind closed doors, but she also had to pay Liu $40 a day for room and board.

During raids Thursday, police found two women who said they were working for Liu. One was from Las Vegas.

The other woman lived in Flushing, N.Y., and agreed to travel to Minnesota to work for Liu as a prostitute.

Police also interviewed a man who quit work for Liu in August because "his conscience got to him." His duties included picking up women at the airport and bringing them to calls.

Liu made his first court appearance Friday. When the judge questioned him to determin if he needed a public defender, Liu said he was a delivery driver who had $800 in his bank account.

Police found nearly $7,000 at his Minneapolis location. They also estimated he earned $70,000 a month off the women.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465