The Verrill Street home in Portland where a husband and wife allegedly operated a prostitution house, according to prosecutors. Credit: CBS 13

PORTLAND, Maine — A New Hampshire husband and wife accused of using Chinese nationals in a sex-trafficking operation in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are going to be detained until at least next week.

Detention hearings were delayed Tuesday for 37-year-old Sou Chao Li and his wife, 37-year-old Derong Maio, of Concord, New Hampshire. The hearings were rescheduled for Dec. 27 in Portland.

An indictment unsealed when they were arrested last week indicates they used a messaging system popular in China to entice women to come to the United States on tourist visas to work in the sex industry.

The indictment indicates at least 27 women were involved in the operation. In at least one instance, the couple took a woman’s passport to ensure cooperation.