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Bold criminal secretly relaunched massage parlor prostitution ring as he cut a deal with prosecutors

2 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Friday, March 03 2023 Mar 3, 2023 March 03, 2023 8:43 PM March 03, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A man arrested for running a prostitution ring out of several massage parlors had already restarted his criminal operation by the time prosecutors agreed to drop his charges last year, according to court records obtained by WBRZ.

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On Wednesday, WBRZ reported that several massage parlors were closed after they were busted for allegedly being fronts for prostitution. Three people have been arrested so far: Huang Weng, An-Kuo Ho and Chengying Hu. All of them are accused of promoting prostitution and pandering at multiple massage parlors around Baton Rouge recently.

"It's been a pretty common thing in the state," said Jennifer Mire, vice president of The Dragonfly Harbor.

According to arrest records, undercover detectives with the sheriff's office were offered unsolicited sexual services at several different massage parlors.

Those same parlors were the center of a similar investigation last year. In that case, Weng's charges were dropped during a settlement where he agreed to allow the state to keep the $8,761 that was seized. Court records show that deal was finalized on Oct. 28, 2022. 

An arrest warrant from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office shows deputies started investigating Weng's business again on Sep. 1, 2022 and found evidence of prostitution in the following weeks, before Weng's deal was even signed by a judge.

The State Board of Massage Therapy says those massage parlors had their licenses revoked following the initial investigation and they resumed operations illegally under new names.

Weng was one of several arrested, and now he faces similar charges. Ho is accused of picking up the women from the New Orleans airport and bringing them to the different parlors.

"People are brought over or somehow coerced to be a part of a scheme. Sometimes it's debt labor or promises for something they are not going to receive," Mire said.

Mire works to help sex trafficking survivors. She says she has seen dozens of massage parlors shut down not only due to sex trafficking, but also labor trafficking.

"I think people forget these are real people who have trauma, and they are victims in these situations," Mire said.

Mire says that often after a raid, organizations like The Dragonfly Harbor are able to help the survivors obtain visas, counseling and support.

"It's more beneficial for them to get help here, than they get sent back to where they could possibly be in danger," Mire said.

It's unclear if any of the women believed to be involved directly in the services will be arrested.

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