SALT LAKE COUNTY, UTAH COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 8, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Three women were arrested Wednesday after a five-month investigation into massage parlors believed to be fronts for prostitution operations, and that allegedly use workers who are victims of human trafficking.
A statement issued Wednesday by the Utah Attorney General’s Office said the arrestees are Lianfang Feng, 54; Ruixue Chen, 37; and Xiuyun Huo, 45.
Federal charges include exploitation of a prostitute, aiding prostitution, money laundering, pattern of unlawful activity, and maintaining a public nuisance, the statement says, noting additional charges may be added.
The suspects are being held in the Salt Lake and Utah County Jails. Bank accounts and assets for the suspects are currently frozen as the investigation continues. More than $100,000 dollars was seized, most of which was in cash, the statement says.
“Today, the SECURE Strike Force (which includes the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Taylorsville Police Department, and multiple law enforcement agencies) ended a large human trafficking enterprise and helped several female victims in six northern Utah locations,” the AG statement says.
“Three people were arrested, and all the victims have been offered any assistance needed including being provided shelter, medical care, and other services.”
Female workers told investigators they thought they were brought to Utah to work legitimate jobs, but were then forced into sex work, the statement says.
“The women victims, in this case, were suffering in plain sight,” said Chief Leo Lucey, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division at the Utah Attorney General’s Office, in a prepared statement. “They were working in servitude and trapped in a criminal enterprise that was extensive and powerful.
“We are pleased that we are able to work with our law enforcement partners and the Asian Association of Utah as these women recover from the trauma they have endured.”
Besides the Attorney General’s Office, local agencies involved in the operation included the Taylorsville, Park City, West Jordan, West Valley City, American Fork, and Lindon police departments; Unified Police Department; Davis County Metro; and the Department of Public Safety. Federal agents also helped in the case, the statement says.