Police arrested four people on charges of human trafficking and running prostitution houses in brothels disguised as spas and massage parlors in Rockville.
Three of the alleged prostitution houses were run out of storefronts in the 900 block of Hungerford Drive.
Police arrested Mauricio Alex Garcia Guardia, Howard Hao Wang, Roberto Carrasco and Feng Liu. They are charged with human trafficking and/or conducting prostitution.
Someone already pulled the sign off Executive Bodywork, just a few doors down from Best Massage, whose owner, Wang, also owns another nearby brothel, Tropical Spa, police charged.
Police also arrested, 46-year-old Feng Liu, who ran Ya-Ya Spa at 751 Rockville Pike. She is out on bond, but the woman who answered the door insisted she was not Liu and could not understand English.
Another alleged front for prostitution was Wa Wa Spa on Hubbard Drive. That sign was also gone today.
In 2011, the Montgomery County Police Department received numerous complaints from citizens about the illegal operation of these businesses. Surrounding businesses had complained about increased traffic and men going in and out at all hours.
And they were tipped off by increased Internet ads for acupressure and massage services.
In September of 2011, detectives from the Montgomery County Special Investigations Division-Vice and Intelligence Unit started an investigation into brothels operating in the county. The alleged brothels were calling themselves acupressure and massage establishments.
Police say they used undercover officers and wiretapping in their probe, helped out by a new Maryland law that allowed wiretapping in the investigation of human trafficking.
Investigators determined that some of the massage and acupressure businesses operating in the county were illegitimate and had become the havens for human trafficking schemes, exploiting women.