STUART, Fla. – Women accused of running illicit massage parlors spent hours talking to detectives in the days following a multi-agency, multi-county prostitution bust, according to an interview recently released by the State Attorney’s Office.
Detectives learned some of the people closest to the women had no idea any of this was going on.
“They say that you did prostitution,” a man tells his wife, Yong Wang, after detectives leave the interview room. “Did you do something bad? ... When you were at the spa, did you have sex with men?”
“No, no, I don’t know,” Wang replies. Moments later, deputies put Wang in handcuffs and place her under arrest for charges of prostitution, money laundering, and racketeering.
The interviews not only reveal information about the women inside the spa, but the men receiving their services.
“How many times have you had sexual relations with the girls that are in here,” a deputy asks an unidentified man found naked in Bridge Day Spa during a bust. “You get a happy ending every time you come here,” the man replies.
The interviews also show detectives spent hours trying to get victim’s to cooperate.
“There’s a girl next door telling us how this all happened to her, and we’re going to go help her,” one detective told an unidentified Asian woman. “I don’t think this is your dream job. I don’t think this is the life you want to live.”
“I know your part of a big organization, and I don’t want you to be the target of our investigation,” another told Shuang Lu, one of the six women in Martin County charged in the case. “The only way that I can prove that you’re not important is for you to explain to me how the organization works.”
The interviews show women, like accused madam Lixia Zhu, brokered a deal to get to the United States.
“The total debt – you said last time - if you come to the U.S. was 220,000 yen?” a detective asks. “Yes,” Zhu replies, saying she had to work it off.
Of the interviews listed to by Contact 5, all women said they stayed in the spa overnight at different times.
“Sometimes we would stay at the massage parlor if the boss couldn’t come pick us up,” Zhu told a detective, through a translator.
“After we arrived, [the boss] didn’t have an apartment for us. I did not want to live in the spa because it is dirty. It has got cockroaches and nobody wants to live in that kind of environment,” Wang told detectives, also through a translator.
An unidentified woman told detectives she worked at the massage parlor to make money for her family back in China, but confessed her family had no idea how she was making a living.
Despite all the information detectives learned, all of the women told them they did this on their own volition.
“No one forced me,” Zhu said, through her translator.
“For us to help her, she has to tell me she’s doing it against her will,” another detective told a translator. “She says she needs help, but she is not trusting,” the translator said.
Human trafficking advocates were brought in and listed the services victims could gain access to, including housing, medical, therapy, clothing and food, immigration benefits, the ability to bring their children over from another country, and educational scholarships.
Four of the six female massage therapists charged in Martin County have taken plea deals. The State Attorney’s Office told Contact 5 those women could be asked to testify against anyone else charged in the case.
However, so far, no one involved in Martin County investigation has been classified as a victim of human trafficking.