At first glance, the ads proclaiming last week's grand opening of the JJ Health Center might have appeared to suggest something more than a massage. The massive amounts of cleavage, the pining eyes and lingerie uniforms of the "Friendly Charming Attentants," the scantily clad masseuse doing what appears to be some oddly sexualized version of the Harlem shake -- all seemed to be sended some sort of coded message. But then you read the actual text of the ad -- "Fantastic Good Massage. **Boost your sprits and energy, Reduce pain, Relieve stress and Improve circulation**" -- and conclude that sometimes a massage is just a massage.
And sometimes it's not, which Dallas police suspect is the case with JJ. In a police report filed yesterday, they refer to the establishment as a brothel and make the shocking allegation that men go there to pay for sex.
Dallas police didn't actually visit JJ yesterday. They did, however, raid a home on Kit Lane in Far North Dallas and arrest a 57-year-old named Chinli Yeh for engaging in organized crime.
Detectives had been building their case for quite a while, according to the police report. Undercover officers had arranged several "dates" through the Backpage.com over several months and kept being directed to the Kit Lane address where, it turns out, they had previously made prostitution arrests. (Backpage is the Craigslist-syle classified-ad site once owned by the Observer's parent company.)
At some point during the investigation, the FBI became involved, obtaining a warrant to install surveillance cameras, which showed that lots and lots of random men were visiting the house, then leaving an hour or so later. They found more evidence by rummaging through the trash left outside for garbage trucks and by recording conversations. Several undercover visits to the property proved it: Yeh was taking money for sex.
By yesterday, they'd pieced together that Yeh, along with various accomplices whose identity has not yet been revealed, were running a pretty big prostitution ring in Dallas featuring a number of brothels. The only ones police have named so far are the Kit Lane House and the JJ massage parlor, but there are more. The investigation originated out of Collin County, and it was Collin County Judge Mark Rusch who signed Yeh's arrest warrant.
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So, expect this to get bigger.
Update at 3:44 p.m.: The Dallas Morning News' Scott Goldstein tracked down some affidavits at the courthouse and says that three other women -- Yu Tao Chen, Yuanli Zhang and Pang Hsiang Lin -- have been arrested and that a third location -- Rosemeade Spa in the 3900 block of Rosemeade Parkway near the President George Bush Turnpike -- was also raided.
There's also this:
The investigation dates to at least May 2011 when Quyen Thuc Ha, the operator of the two spas, called a Dallas police detective on his desk phone, police said. From the beginning of the investigation, Ha believed a monthly fee of $2,5000 that he was paying the detective was in exchange for the officer to protect his two brothels from police action, the documents said.
But the meetings Ha had with the detective were recorded and the cash was "logged into evidence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the documents said.