Police: Massachusetts massage parlor offered sex for sale

Haverhill, Mass., police, assisted by agents from the FBI and state, raided the Rest & Relaxation Bodywork & Foot Massage parlor on Tuesday and placed "closed'' signs on the building.

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Police detectives and state and federal agents in Haverhill, Mass., raided a massage parlor on Tuesday and said they plan to charge a woman with performing sex there for a fee.

At 12:30 p.m., local officers and agents with the FBI, Homeland Security and Immigration, Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure and the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents used a search warrant at the area's Rest & Relaxation Bodywork & Foot Massage parlor.

Haverhill Police Detective Captain Robert Pistone told the North Andover (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune the warrant was issued based on a month-long investigation into the massage parlor for sexual conduct for a fee, which was advertised on a website.

Police said they plan to summon to court Yan Liang, 51, of Woodside, N.Y., for the crime of sexual conduct for a fee. Liang was the massage therapist present at the time of the raid, according to police.

Pistone said the Division of Professional Licensure issued two $1,000 citations for operating an unlicensed massage facility. He said they also issued a citation to Liang for being an unlicensed massage therapist. Haverhill detectives also seized more than $2,000 in cash, Pistone said.

The Department of Industrial Accidents closed the business immediately and until further notice for failing to follow Massachusetts Worker’s Compensation laws, Pistone added.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and that authorities are looking into other individuals who may have helped set up the business, as well as financial records showing where money collected there was sent.

According to police, these kinds of businesses often participate in human trafficking that involves immigrant women brought to America with the promise of good jobs, only to find that once here, they are forced into sex slavery by working and living in massage parlors and performing sexual services. 

"These women are placed into fear and are moved around from city to city to work in these shops," Pistone said. "Many of the johns (men who pay for sex) feel that this is a victimless, harmless crime. However, they are supporting organized crime and engaging in activities with mostly helpless, immigrant women, who are the victims of modern-day sexual slavery."

LaBella writes for the North Andover (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune.

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