SEATTLE — Six suspects were arrested for promoting prostitution and money laundering following a 3 ½ year investigation into a network of massage parlors and spas in Seattle, the Seattle Police Department announced Friday.
Police launched the investigation following numerous complaints of potential sex trafficking at various massage parlor locations in the city and served more than a dozen warrants, with assistance from the FBI and DHS, in the last week.
After receiving the complaints, the Seattle Police Department’s Vice/High-Risk Victims Section investigated the businesses and “determined that there was a criminal enterprise, linking several individuals and the massage parlor locations.”
Investigators identified multiple suspects who they say were working together to exploit female victims by “requiring them to engage in sex acts for the profit of the businesses.”
Police said the victims were “fraudulently lured to Seattle from China” through targeted advertisements for legal employment with “the promise of making large sums of money to support themselves and their families.”
Three years of investigative work culminate in over a dozen warrants served and six facing charges in an effort to disrupt a broad network of sexual exploitation. https://t.co/srqf3GBzxT @FBISeattle @KCProsecutor #HSISeattle— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) March 8, 2019
In addition to arresting six suspects, police recovered cash and firearms.
Police also recovered 26 women, between the ages of 20 and 60, as part of the operation.
“Many of these victims were forced to live in austere conditions, and were prostituted upwards of 20 hours a day under the direction of those involved in the criminal enterprise,” Seattle police said.
The suspects also restricted and/or monitored the victim’s movements, according to police.
“The victims were increasingly forced to work extreme hours in unhealthy conditions engaging in sexual acts regardless of the medical, physical and emotional risks. The victims were frequently put in situations where they were vulnerable to physical attacks with no means of escape or defense,” Seattle police said.
Police said the victims have been united with service providers in the area who are helping the victims' needs for medical attention, food, living arrangements and transportation.
Follow this link to find resources for victims of human trafficking from the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network.
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