RONKONKOMA, Long Island — Three women were arrested during a raid at a massage parlor in Ronkonkoma, Suffolk Police said Friday.
Following several community complaints, police, and the Human Trafficking Investigations Unit conducted an investigation at Hau Xia Healthy Center massage parlor located at 3333 Veterans Memorial Highway around 5:10 p.m. on Thursday.
Three Flushing, Queens women were arrested.
Guoyn Ji, 43, was charged with promoting prostitution.
Xin Xia Jin, 31, was charged with two counts of unauthorized practice of a profession, a Class E felony under the New York State Education law and Prostitution.
Suhua Fu, 40, was charged with two counts of unauthorized practice of a profession, a Class E Felony under the New York State Education law and two counts of Prostitution.
Islip Fire Marshals condemned the building.
Many of the women, who are originally from China, were forced to live in the spas and were not allowed to leave without an escort, investigators told the Associated Press.
Law enforcement officials reportedly said there were an estimated 9,000 illicit massage parlors across the country, from Orlando to Los Angeles.
“The epicenter of this national underground is in Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens”, Lori Cohen, Director of Sanctuary’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative said.
Queens Council Member Peter Koo released a statement saying, “We are seeing this happen sporadically nationwide. Massage parlors are raided by law enforcement, and it later becomes clear that they can be traced back to Flushing. We are working to make sure that those trafficked have access to services, and that our community knows what to look out for. Sex trafficking needs to be addressed with tremendous sensitivity so victims can be sure they are safe. We want them to know they have the full support of law enforcement and government. ”
An ongoing investigation by the NYPD led to the identification and closure of several brothels posing as massage parlors on 40th Road across the street from a playground in Flushing, officials said.
Council Member Koo, along with the NYPD and community members will hold a human trafficking seminar at the Flushing Library on March 29th at 6 p.m. to help explain services available to victims and educate the community about what to look out for.
Local officials said they are working with local women shelters to provide outreach services to potential victims.
Click here for more on how you can help victims of human trafficking.