COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The FBI has arrested a former Hilliard resident turned Florida doctor, after a Columbus woman sent in a tip that he tried to buy underage girls as a sex slave.

Alan Li, 26, faces charges of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and attempted coercion or enticement of a minor. NBC4 obtained documents related to the FBI’s investigation into the doctor, who works at a Miami Beach, Florida, hospital, that showed the agency started looking into him in March when it got a tip from a woman in Columbus.

Investigation begins

The woman — who name was not included in court documents — said she met Li a year ago in Columbus through a dating website, where they got together for a night. During their time together, she told him about when she was trafficked at a young age, according to the FBI. After losing contact for several months, Li reached out to her on March 12 over Snapchat, and the woman shared her conversation with Li with the FBI.

“You said you were trafficked right?” Li asked the woman. “My friend wants to meet young girls and he is willing to pay, can you help him out?

The woman told Li to connect her with his friend on Snapchat, and Li responded that his friend would make an account. The criminal complaint record indicates that Li was actually making a second account and was pretending to be another person named Michael Chen. Investigators said Li would log out of his account and into Michael’s quickly from the same IP address registered to his house, and other details made them believe the two were the same person.

“Hi I’m mike, alan gave me your contact,” Li wrote to the woman. “…But I also like younger girls if you know what I mean.”

“What age,” the woman asked.

“Ideally 8-15,” Li wrote.

The conversation history stops for March 12 in the criminal complaint record. However, the FBI notes on March 16, the woman also called the hospital where Li works, Mount Sinai Medical Center, to tell the director of security what had been said to her.

Going undercover

The criminal complaint picks the conversation back up on March 22, when the Columbus woman let an FBI “online covert employee” take over her Snapchat account to talk with Li. From here, the FBI agent, pretending to be the woman, gave Li a trafficker’s phone number, which was actually the agent using another phone. Li then used a fake number and pretended to be Chen to talk with the undercover agent. The following are excerpts from the conversation, with some portions omitted for explicit content.

“What do you have available?” Li asked. “Girl.”

“Got a 9, 12 and 15 depending on what kind of service you want,” the agent said.

“Full service bareback available?” Li asked. “Ok let’s do the 12.”

The two discussed payment options. The agent told him to make a $250 down payment and $500 total for sex with the 12-year-old over CashApp. Li asked if he could pay with cash or Bitcoin instead, according to the criminal complaint record. The agent told Li they would work it out later.

During payment negotiations, Li said he previously had an underage girl he kept as a sex slave. Some portions have been omitted for explicit content.

“… And like a live in situation,” Li proposed.

“… You ever had that?” the agent asked.

“Ya once before,” Li said. “… I just had her live with me and I provided everything.”

“… How old was that one? This 12 I got will do anything but had her a while now,” the agent said.

“13,” Li said.

“Who’s kid was it?” the agent asked.

“Just someone I knew in Ohio who set it up for me,” Li said.

Li asked about buying the 12-year-old to live in his house permanently as a sex slave, and the agent offered to sell her for $20,000.

“Ya she will stay in the house,” Li said. “… I keep my place pretty safe and locked up.”

Arranging a meeting

The criminal complaint record picked up discussion between Li and the agent again on April 4, when the agent asked for money. The pair later agreed to meet at a hotel on April 12 with the 12-year-old and payment in-person.

Li then canceled the meeting that evening and asked to reschedule, but the two never completed a plan. The criminal complaint showed he then reached out to the tipster woman and expressed that he was nervous.

“He’s trustworthy right?” Li asked. “… I’m not trying to be sketch but I’m trying to be careful since I don’t know him.”

Li and the undercover agent fell out of contact from April 16 to April 28, according to the record. The agent then tried to proposition Li on April 29, saying they had more girls available to buy. They made arrangements for Li to buy a different girl on May 2, but that plan never materialized. Li then messaged the Columbus woman again feeling nervous.

Li ultimately never followed through on arrangements to meet and buy an underage girl, but the FBI made the case in the criminal complaint record that investigators found probable cause that Li had attempted to traffic a minor for sex.

Agents had already been conducting in-person surveillance on Li at this point, and arrested him on May 12, according to federal records.

Arrest aftermath

Inmate records show Li was being held in the Federal Detention Center in Miami as of Tuesday morning. Another document from Li’s case showed that because the doctor is accused of offenses involving a minor and had the resources to be a flight risk, the U.S. District Court for Southern Florida ordered him to be held without bail.

“Defendant’s intelligence, extensive education, exhibited knowledge of using technology to conceal
his identity, and access to large amounts of cash and cryptocurrency, which would allow Defendant to make anonymous purchases, demonstrates his willingness and ability to evade law enforcement,” a U.S. magistrate judge wrote. “Moreover, Defendant has… extended family living abroad. As such, based on the charges alleged in the complaint, under which Defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment, Defendant has strong incentive, and the capability, to flee and evade capture by law enforcement.”

The FBI declined to comment on Li’s arrest when NBC4 reached out, and also said it does not release inmate photos “as a matter of policy.”

Li still appeared on Mount Sinai Medical Center’s current resident list as of Tuesday morning, but the detention record said he no longer works at the hospital. The FBI also said in documents that it had been in contact with the hospital, which gave investigators his personnel file and network activity on Mount Sinai’s computers.

The doctor was a former Ohio resident, having graduated from Hilliard Darby High School in 2013. He attended the University of Virginia School of Medicine before becoming a resident at Mount Sinai and moving to Florida.