Miami Beach

He lured women to Miami Beach for yoga studio jobs. Then he forced them to sell sex

A woman on a yoga mat in the lotus position.
A woman on a yoga mat in the lotus position. File Photo

The women from Kazakhstan thought they had snagged clerical jobs in a yoga studio.

They used the U.S. State Department’s J-1 Summer Work Travel Program to come to Miami Beach, where they thought they’d learn office and clerical work from Dr. Janardana Dasa.

But in May 2011, the woman found out “Janardana’s Yoga and Wellness S.A.” didn’t exist, and their host, 46-year-old Jeffrey Jason Cooper, had other plans for their employment. He forced the women to perform erotic massages and commercial sex for two months before police rescued the women.

Cooper, according to court documents, was convicted Thursday on 11 counts, including three counts of wire fraud for discussing the fraud over the phone, one count of importing an alien for immoral purposes and two counts of sex trafficking. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, a maximum fine of $2.7 million and an order to pay back his victims.

“This case is the perfect example of how victims can travel halfway around the world in an effort to better themselves only to be defrauded and exploited sexually,” said Mark Selby, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Miami in a statement.

If you’re worried that you or someone you know might be the victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc