Thursday, June 20, 2013
Prostitution ring busted in Plano, Dallas
Feds called it "Operation Flaming Dragon." For real.
Officials from the FBI, Plano Police Department and other agencies announced Wednesday the breakup of a sophisticated prostitution ring with locations in Plano, Dallas and Hurst.
The ring operated out of multiple massage parlors, as well as at least one private residence, said John Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. Bales said Operation Flaming Dragon lasted more than 2 1/2 years, a time period that was necessary because of the complexity of the ring, which allegedly included bringing in women from multiple states.
"This was an effort ... whose aim was to completely dismantle an organized prostitution ring that it looks like was operating here with relative impunity for the past 2 1/2 years," Bales said. "... [The indictment also alleges that] one of the defendants, Quyen Ha, also known as Tony Ha, regularly paid bribes to Dallas and Plano police detectives he believed would protect his prostitution operation, but both officers were merely pretending to be corrupt."
The investigation began when Plano residents called the police department complaining of suspicious activity occurring at several massage parlors. Search warrants were served at four Plano businesses, as well as one Plano home and one apartment complex, Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin said.
"Since those warrants have been served, all of those businesses have been closed," Rushin said. "We feel this has made a great deal of good in our city to knock out this type of criminal activity, and we are going to continue our efforts in looking into this type of activity and making sure it doesn't come back."
The federal indictment includes 11 names, including three Plano residents: Lao Iong Chiu, 46; Li Meng Shank, 42; and Yu Lin Chang, 37. Chiu is one of the three people who have yet to be arrested, Bales said. In addition to the racketeering charges, there are also two counts of bribery related to the $305,000 paid to the undercover detectives.
In addition to the federal cases, 12 additional people were indicted on state charges, including six by Plano PD. The six women indicted in Collin County are charged with either offering massages without a proper license, or prostitution, which is not a crime under federal law.
Authorities allege the ring advertised on the Internet to attract clients, who paid a fee Bales would not disclose. However, he said the amount of money brought in by the ring was in the millions of dollars. He said the women are all thought to be in the United States legally and do not appear to be victims of human trafficking. The women would be moved around constantly from one location to another, Bales said, adding that women who were popular with clients would work more often.
"There is a well understood network," Bales said. "Most of these women are from the People's Republic of China, but some are from other Asian countries. All of these store fronts and call-out services advertised Asian women."
The large Asian community in Plano is what makes Plano great, Bales said, adding he doesn't believe massage parlors operating as houses of prostitution are commonplace in the city.
"This is an anomaly in that community, but it is a well-understood track in that type of business," he said. "There is a man that is looking for this type of exotic sexual adventure, and these guys have filled what they thought was that need. It is clear they hit on some sort of itch that folks were trying to scratch."
FBI Agent Diego Rodriguez said while this type of case is uncommon in Plano, it is something that the agency sees with some regularity across the country. He said the ring in Plano was stereotypical of other rings that have been broken up.
Plano locations in alleged prostitution ring
- Golden Spring Asian Spa, 700 W. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano
- Asian Therapy Center, 2945 W. 15th St. in Plano
- Aljunni Massage (Ni-Ni-Ha Foot Massage), 6900 Alma Drive in Plano
- Wellness Therapy, unknown address
Federal charges (Plano residents only)
- Lao Iong Chiu, 46
- Li Meng Shank, 42
- Yu Lin Chang, 37
Charged by Plano PD
- Yubling Li, 50, offering massages without a license
- Yafen Wang, 47, prostitution
- LeQin Huang, 40, prostitution
- Hui Li, 44, offering massages without a license
- Jing Liu, 53, offering massages without a license
- Jihong Liu, 41, offering massages without a license
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
Star Local News staff writer Rachel Diebner contributed to this story.
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