MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) — A criminal investigation consisting of bank financial accounts, old-fashioned undercover stakeouts and even dumpster diving has unearthed a professional prostitution ring within four massage studios, the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office revealed in court Thursday.
Earlier this week, authorities arrested Hong Wang, 56, Hanfeng Zhang, 55, and Xiaoxia Lin, 42, all of Germantown, on an assortment of human trafficking charges. Each defendant faces decades of hard prison time.
According to court documents, the multi-month police investigation uncovered the four "houses of prostitution" where around 30 Asian women were providing a lot more than just a Swedish massage. During the course of the operation, detectives stopped more than 40 men as they exited the various spas. Every man admitted to receiving an illicit sex act, detectives note. Some paid by debit and credit card while others used cash.
Names and addresses of the four massage studios named in court documents:
In court Thursday, prosecutors revealed "one small apartment" along Clopper Road in Gaithersburg served as a dormitory for the 30-or-so victims. The ringleaders allegedly used ride-sharing apps like Uber to shuttle the women between that modest apartment and the spas where they would service male clients for hours on end.
Prosecutors mentioned that the ringleaders have "significant financial resources" and frequently travel to China and other parts of Asia, in turn, making them a severe "flight risk." They further noted there is a tax evasion component to this criminal case, but did not explain to what extent.
Wang reportedly works as a manager at a biomedical company, which produces human tissue products. He has lived in Montgomery County for 14 years and has a 28-year-old son. He is married to Lin.
Zhang required the assistance of an interpreter while in court. She too has lived in Montgomery County for 14 years and has a 30-year-old daughter.
Social service agencies are now caring for a number of the roughly 30 victims. Many do not speak English. None are believed to be minors. Authorities stressed that the women will play a significant role in the prosecution of this case.
It's possible more co-defendants will be named in the weeks and months ahead, but as of this story's publishing, Zhang, Wang and Lin were the only individuals charged.