WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Customers of two West Monroe massage parlors engaged in acts which were the result of sex trafficking according to records filed with the 4th Judicial District Court in Ouachita Parish.
Those two massage parlors are Shangri-La Massage Therapy and Spa on North 7th Street and China Massage and Spa on Blanchard Drive. Shangri-La Massage Therapy and Spa is within walking distance of West Monroe High School and China Massage and Spa is across the street from a major shopping center which includes IHOP, Hobby Lobby, and Office Depot. Both locations allegedly employed Asian women who are the victims of sex trafficking.
Police say evidence of illegal activity has been gathered through multiple witness accounts, surveillance, and undercover officer massage purchases. The following information was gleaned from documents filed in court.
Sex trafficking victims were $40,000 in debt
According to the court documents, women are being trafficked from South Korea, China, and Thailand to the U.S. for a fee of roughly $40,000 each. To pay the debt, those same women are then forced into working at illicit massage parlors, sexually pleasuring customers over the span of a year.
According to the detective investigating the case, the women were forced to work 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week. The detective indicated that some of the employees weren't even compensated for their work since they are still paying off a debt. All the while, the women are required to stay at a specific residence or at the massage parlor.
After the year is up, the detective noted, employees are typically released.
In the case of Shangri-La Spa, the employees were forced to live at the business and were only allowed to leave to get groceries.
In the case of China Massage and Spa, the employees were all living in one small apartment on Parkwest Drive, although the detective notes that some were possibly living at the business. The detective says that the women were usually being taken to and from work by spa management, but would occasionally be taken home by customers late at night if the employee worked after hours.
The employees who worked at the two West Monroe locations were not always in West Monroe. Some were occasionally switched out with workers in California, according to investigators.
Operations of the clandestine businesses
A detective investigating the case says the head of this operation is Haiping Sun. Sun allegedly pays the rent at an apartment where the sex trafficking victims live, pays for online advertising, and owns China Massage and Spa. The detective says Sun is not new to sex trafficking. Before opening shop to West Monroe customers, she allegedly ran several illicit massage parlors in the Shreveport/Bossier area. When she was busted there, she moved to West Monroe. The detective says Haiping Sun also owns properties in south Louisiana.
In both West Monroe locations, only men were seen going into the businesses. According to authorities, these customers helped facilitate the operation of these illegal activities including prostitution and for-profit sex trafficking.
As of Wednesday, five people have been arrested in the case, including Haiping Sun. The other four were managing the female sex workers at both locations and setting up appointments for customers. Some also engaged in illicit sexual activity.
Customer information obtained
According to the West Monroe Police Department, search warrants were obtained for several locations and 2016/2017 models vehicles. Through those search warrants, detectives were able to acquire a list of customers who went to the two businesses. Police also have their contact information.
If you were a client of this business and have any information, you are asked to call West Monroe police.